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  • Provenance

    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Salzburg

  • Exhibited

    Salzburg, Galerie Ropac, Anselm Kiefer für Paul Celan, August 3 – September 3, 2005

  • Catalogue Essay

    Among the most renowned and successful, yet highly disputed German artists postWorldWar II is Anselm Kiefer. Born March 8, 1945, Kiefer left law and Romance language studies in 1966 at the University of Freiburg to pursue studies of art within academies of Freiburg, Kalrsruhe, and Düsseldorf. Under the influence of his professor in Düsseldorf, artist Joseph Beuys, Kiefer constructed works utilizing materials such as glass, straw, and wood.The acknowledged fragility of such early work contrasts greatly with the subject matter of later paintings.
    Kiefer aborted an early, secret desire to become a poet and instead pursued a career as a visual artist. His realized mission, however, expanded beyond the canvas and studio.The artist created a stimulating universe in which mingling and discourse between intellectual minds is prompted. La Ribaute offers the physical grounds of interaction between friends and partners – dialogues appearing visually in Kiefer’s works. Poet Paul Celan proves to be of heavy influence to Kiefer.
    “When he quotes excerpts from poems, Kiefer does not illustrate the text but he marries the aural memory to the visual one of the image. Another form of transference consists in using paradigms from Celan’s poetry that evoke material – straw, ashes, sand, hair – and transposing the concept into the actual media of the painting.This creates a kind of subcutaneous transfusion, from the sensual layer of the text to the body of the painting, which no longer needs the exteriority of words” (A.Lauterwein, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Celan: Myth, Mourning, and Memory, NewYork, 2007, p.18). Kiefer’s paintings manage to maintain all emotions and effects presented in a Celan poem – the text loses no impact in its painted translation.
    The present lot, Dein Hausritt die Finstere Welle, i.e.Your House Rode the DarkWave, depicts the seascape – the forth form realized in a cycle of paintings devoted to Paul Celan.The mixed media work, along with For Paul Celan – Sea Foam (created contemporaneously) allude to an early poem of Celan titled The Only Light.The poem references three historical periods: Genesis 7-8 – the biblical story of the Flood, the departure to Palestine of Jews who evaded the Nazi concentration camps on overcrowded boats, and third, a reference of the series Gegenlicht – “OurTalk of justice is empty until the largest battleship has foundered on the forehead of a drowned man” (Ibid, p. 219).
    The lamps of fear are bright, even in the storm.
    Cool on the keel of the leafy boats, they approach your brow:
    You wish they would break against you, for are they not glass?
    You hear the milk dripping now, as you drink from the splinters
    the juice that when sleeping you sipped from the mirrors of winter:
    your heart was filled with snowflakes and your eyes were heavy with ice,
    you hair was soaked with sea-foam, and they pleated you with birds…
    Your house rode the dark waves, but it sheltered a line of roses;
    as an ark it left the road, thus saving you in disaster:
    O the white gables of death – their village as at Christmas!
    O sleigh ride through the air – and yet you did return,
    and climbed the tree like a boy, from where you now keep watch:
    that ark is floating near, and yet it’s brim-full of roses,
    the boat are racing up with the flashing lamps of fear:
    perhaps your temples are bursting as their crew leaps onto the shore,
    and then puts up the tents, as your skull arches to heavens –
    your hair is soaked with sea-foam, and your heart is heavy with flakes.
    The current lot, Dein Hausritt die Finstere Welle, is loaded with direct references to The Only Light.The title itself quotes the beginning of the eighth line of the poem.The canvas is inscribed on the top right-hand corner with a dedication to the inspiring poet, Celan; the former part of the ninth line, “as an ark it left the road,” is readable within the painting as well. When read in sequence, of the eight and ninth lines utilized by Kiefer refer directly to the biblical reference of the Flood. Kiefer omits the latter part of both the eight and ninth lines-curious in that the former phrases of both lines of poetry refer to the survival of Jews – the Flood, in such a case, is not quite as dark as portrayed by the painter.The lead boat and book affixed to the canvas of the present lot perhaps allude to a dark fate of a downward crash into the sea floor – for it seems nothing can survive the treacherous Flood painted by Kiefer.


Dein Hausritt die Finstere Welle


Oil, emulsion, acrylic, coal, gypsum, and lead on canvas.

110 1/4 x 151 in. (280 x 384 cm).

$1,200,000 - 1,600,000 

Contemporary Art Part I

13 Nov 2008, 7pm
New York