Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Materiality & The Image: Project Plan

All projects need a plan - please find my project plan here Materiality & The Image Project Plan

The work above are Lead Books by Anselm Kiefer.  The Royal Academy of the Arts writes; 'Books – often with wings – have been a repeated motif since the late 1960s and represent, for Kiefer, important repositories of learning, religion, culture. Many of these book sculptures are made of lead, which Kiefer first used to mend his plumbing in the 1970s. He has subsequently described it as “the only material heavy enough to carry the weight of human history”.' (RA: Anselm Kiefer 2020) 

This weight of human history is one of the key elements to Kiefer's work which is post-second world war and shows the aftermath and devastation created by war using German myths and legends.  His work also uses a wide variety of mixed media including lead (as above) but also concrete, stone, ash, straw, shellac, paint, and photographs.  The work is often massive and in the case of the books extremely heavy.  The work is meant so that we do not forget history and that we face what we have done.  Kiefer States: '"Art really is something very difficult," he says. "It is difficult to make, and it is sometimes difficult for the viewer to understand … A part of it should always include having to scratch your head."' (Prodger 12/09/2014) 

I went to the RA exhibition in 2014 and the massive work in the space was truly overwhelming, to see Kiefer's work in a book does not make you really understand it.  Being in front of the work you almost become part of it, it consumes you, takes you in and you feel something profound.  I have cried in front of these works.  In relation to my own work here I am also (in a much much smaller way) attempting to use photographs on wood.  The reason for choosing wood is that wood had a history, through the grain, you can feel the years it has a beauty and by embedding the image into the wood It feels as if the image becomes part of a new history.  I will write more about this as I go along but I am very interested in using ritual magic and the Kabbalah as Kiefer has done in his images and I will be exploring the subject matter of the photography in more detail in later posts.


Prodger M. (12/09/2014) The Guardian, Inside Anselm Kiefer's astonishing 200-acre art studio [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

Royal Academy (2020) Anselm Kiefer: A Beginner's Guide [Online] Available from: (Accessed 04/08/20)

Rosenthal M. (1987) Anselm Kiefer, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Chicago & Philadelphia

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