Through their materiality and aesthetic, books were the first support for his artmaking, and writing every day in a journal has made it possible for the artist to reflect on his work and to engage in research that is closely connected with his thinking. The present exhibition, Anselm Kiefer - Books and Woodcuts, aims to show – modestly in light of how vast his body of work is – the artist’s many connections with poetry, myths, Sumerian and Biblical stories, tales, history, philosophy, Kabbalah, alchemy, and more.
While the early books were a place where the artist expressed ideas, associations and thoughts, the subsequent tomes quickly became a place for exploration in which the succession of pages made it possible to construct a narrative and situate it in time. The subjects elaborated there were then rescaled within his body of work, notably in his output of woodcuts. This art of printmaking, which he launched when he began producing books, has allowed him to envision narrative forms in a completely different space from that of the painted canvas.
The present show, the result of a collaboration between Jan Michalski Foundation for Writing and Literature in Montricher, Switzerland, and Astrup Fearnley Museet, features a series of books dating from 1969 to 2017, and an accompanying selection of woodcuts together with paintings and sculptures. The most recent of these books and woodcuts are being shown here for the first time.