Anselm Kiefer - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 13, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Jan Eric von Löwenadler, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Arguably one of the most important German artists after World War II, Anselm Kiefer is most easily recognized by his large work, which meditate on themes of mythology, literature, architecture, cosmology, and nature. As seen in the present lot, titled Schweres Wasser (Heavy Water), his works are vast in scale and abstract in quality, recalling close connections with the Abstract Expressionist movement, which was of definite inspiration to Kiefer. The art historian, Mark Rosenthal speaks of an inherent tension that exists in his works beginning with “the attempt to unite the scale and visual richness of Abstract Expressionism with meaningful subject matter; in other words, to unite the poles of form and content, the concrete and the ideal, and art and life.The best of Kiefer’s paintings are epic elegies to the human condition, which pulsate with profoundly felt emotions, complex thematic subtlety, and extraordinary surface excitement” (M. Rosenthal, Anselm Kiefer, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1987, p. 155).
    The deep meaning of Kiefer’s work is more often than not, a deliberate attempt at commenting on German history and society. Schweres Wasser (Heavy Water) falls into a category of work from the mid-1980s by the artist that served as “an indirect response to the controversy in West Germany…about NATO’s stationing of tactical nuclear missiles on German soil and the placement of nuclear fuel processing facilities,” The work’s title is a scientific term suggestive of the dangerous nuclear reactions that took place right at those stations.While the present lot abstractly recalls a bleak reality, Kiefer maintains the high quality of his aesthetic with natural materials and earthy tones therefore marrying form and content within the canvas.


Schweres Wasser (Heavy Water)


Two black and white photographs on acid treated lead with clay wash on singed canvas mounted on board in artist’s steel frame.

67 1/2 x 51 3/4 in. (171.5 x 131.4 cm).

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $230,500

Contemporary Art Part I

14 May 2009, 7pm
New York