The Secret Life of Plants

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31

The Secret Life of Plants

2001-2002
193 x 332 cm (75 7/8 x 130 3/4 in.)
branches, plaster, wire and lead on canvas

Estimate
£300,000 - 500,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £362,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I would dig tunnels in the garden, put drawings in them and bury them... I would build little houses with bricks from bombed buildings. People think of ruins as the end of something, but for me they were the beginning. When you have ruins you can start again." (Anselm Kiefer in The Telegraph, 27 September 2014)

    Throughout his career Kiefer uses art and an ever evolving choice of medium to critiques the myths and chauvinism which eventually propelled the German Third Reich to power. His paintings depict his generation's ambivalence toward the grandiose impulse of German nationalism and its impact on history, balancing the dual purposes of visually powerful imagery and intellectually critical analysis.

    In his muscular artistic language, physical materiality and visual complexity enliven his themes and content with a rich, vibrant tactility. His subject-matter ranges from sources as diverse as Teutonic Mythology and history, alchemy and the nature of belief, all depicted in a bewildering variety of materials, including oil paint, dirt, lead, photography, woodcuts, sand, straw and all manner of organic material. By adding found materials to the painted surface of his immense tableaux, he invents a compelling third space between painting and sculpture. Recent work has broadened his range yet further, and in 2005 he showed a series of paintings based around the little-known work of the modernist poet Velimir Chlebnikov (1885-1922).

    This is evident in the present lot. The artist has used lead, oil based paints and dead branches from a plant to create a canvas the alludes to the fragility of life, and density of everything that encompasses it. The dead branches reaching out from the painting, not only creates a three dimensional aspect, allowing the viewer to be engulfed by the work, but also gives this sense of fragility, as each leaf looks like it may fall from the canvas at any given moment. This coupled with the sheer scale of the work, covered in lead, gives this sense of imposing doom, heightening the fragility of the piece and what it represents, life.

31

The Secret Life of Plants

2001-2002
193 x 332 cm (75 7/8 x 130 3/4 in.)
branches, plaster, wire and lead on canvas

Estimate
£300,000 - 500,000 ‡ ♠

sold for £362,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
psumner@phillips.com
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm

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