Drawing inspiration from history, mythology and philosophy, Anselm Kiefer’s work spans paintings, sculptures and huge installations, using a variety of materials ranging from wood and straw to lead and even diamonds!
As you travel through this exhibition, a number of themes appear and are revisited, reflecting Kiefer’s belief and fascination in the cyclical nature of life and time. It is fascinating to see how these common themes developed and his approach to them changed throughout his career.
The combination of materials used in individual pieces gives his work extra dimensions and layers; both physically and conceptually. In The Ash Flower, his use of ash not only builds the painting out, but increases the feeling of ruin and destruction of the Second World War. This feeling is juxtaposed by a giant, dried sunflower in the middle, itself powerful and impactful, but also suggesting transformation and regrowth.
Ages of the World is an installation created especially for the Royal Academy, an impressive piece which is given its own room in this exhibition. It again links back to the cyclical nature of time, and devastating events in our history. It is a stunning structure that you are able to walk round and there are details within it that can be picked out and noticed by everyone, from strips of photography to dried, dead sunflowers. I was intrigued by the colour combinations and patterns accidentally created on discarded canvasses.
Some of the themes and imagery that are included in this exhibition are dark and sombre, but all are undeniably full of impact. It is well worth a visit to see some truly thought provoking work that is created in a unique and powerful way, and inspiring to see a combination of materials used to create a desired effect.