anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens

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Gagosian presents Anselm Kiefer’s first solo exhibition in greece

 

From June 21st to August 24th, 2024, Anselm Kiefer’s first solo exhibition in Greece lands at Gagosian Athens.

The show features new and recent paintings, sculptures, and photographs that depict Kiefer’s landscapes, reflecting poetic responses to myth, history, and the natural world. These works explore themes of creation, metamorphosis, and the cyclical nature of existence. Kiefer’s art is characterized by the interplay of gold’s luminosity with other mediums like oil and acrylic paint, shellac, straw, and fabric. He uses the contrasting tones and textures of these materials to convey the sublimity of nature and the weight of history. Gold’s allegorical significance is highlighted through references to its use in sacred icons and ancient legends, its alchemical symbolism in relation to lead, and the ideal of a ‘golden age.’

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view with Anselm Kiefer, Danaë (2023) artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

 

 

Danaë: Anselm Kiefer Interprets Myth Through Art

 

Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition at Gagosian (find more here) presents two paintings from 2023 titled Danaë which interpret a myth that has inspired artists like Titian, Rembrandt, and Gustav Klimt. In the myth, Danaë is imprisoned by her father, King Acrisius of Argos, due to a prophecy that her son would kill him. Zeus bypasses her confinement by transforming into a shower of gold, leading to the conception of Perseus.

 

The first painting by the German artist depicts Danaë’s prison as an ancient tomb with a corbeled dome, surrounded by windswept foliage described by thick brushstrokes. The second painting illustrates the act of transfiguration central to the myth, featuring a row of black sunflowers on a gold background with gold seeds falling down the surface.

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view with Anselm Kiefer, Danaë (2023) artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

 

 

Exploring sacred and mythological themes through landscapes, Cosenza (2023) portrays an isolated rocky outcropping off the southwestern coast of Italy, rendered in vibrant gold against the dark hues of the Mediterranean. Spes Vana (Empty Hope) (2021) is a photograph printed on a gilded panel of a sculpture of a sunken naval ship taken at Kiefer’s studio in France. This work, reminiscent of the shipwreck in Caspar David Friedrich’s Das Eismeer (The Sea of Ice, 1823–24), features a striking golden ground reflecting Kiefer’s experimental approach to photography.

Nehebkau (1993–2023) is named after an ancient Egyptian deity who took the form of a snake with human legs and served as a guardian of the underworld. Kiefer inscribes hieroglyphics in the painting’s upper register and incorporates straw, terra-cotta, gold leaf, the sediment of a copper solution from electrolysis, and paint, juxtaposing material presence with motifs of transcendence.

 

The sculpture Ignis Sacer (2014), housed in a vitrine, contains scattered flakes of gold among stalks of wheat. The gold leaf suggests both sacred connotations and symbolizes Ignis Sacer (holy fire) or ergotism, a disease caused by a fungus that contaminates grain, causing mania, hallucinations, and death. This disease, seen as divine punishment in the Middle Ages, had repeated outbreaks in the Rhine Valley. Kiefer’s work evokes sacred, mythic, and historical themes, addressing the complexity of humanity’s relationship with nature, which both sustains and threatens life.

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view. artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view with Anselm Kiefer, Spes Vana (Empty hope) (2021) artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

anselm-kiefer-gagosian-athens-designboom-full-01

Anselm Kiefer, Nehebkau (1993-2023) | image by Georges Poncet courtesy of Gagosian

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view. artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view with Anselm Kiefer, Nehebkau (1993-2023) artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

anselm kiefer's first solo exhibition in greece debuts at gagosian athens
installation view with Anselm Kiefer, Ignis sacer (2014) artwork © Anselm Kiefer | image by Stathis Mamalakis courtesy of Gagosian

 

 

project info: 

 

artist: Anselm Kiefer

location: Gagosian | @gagosian, 22 Anapiron Polemou Street, Athens, Greece

dates: June 21st –August 24th, 2024

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