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Zu der stillen Erde sag: Ich rinne. Zu dem raschen Wasser sprich: Ich bin.

Zu der stillen Erde sag: Ich rinne. Zu dem raschen Wasser sprich: Ich bin.

Graphite, charcoal and watercolour on black and white photographs, 2011


Courtesy the artist and White Cube

Each of the vitrines contain one of the artist's celebrated books. Here Kiefer has overlaid the seascapes with mathematical formulae and diagrams - a reference to Euclid, the father of Western geometry. Kiefer contemplates the limits of humanity's noble but futile obsession with mapping and measurement. Books play a crucial part in Kiefer's work; on a par with tectonic and organic elements, they symbolise the ultimate human endeavour to make sense of the world, through knowledge, philosophy or narratives. But Kiefer reminds us that the process of formalising human spirit in the written form can also be fraught, heavy and at times dangerous.

Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer has produced a diverse body of work comprising painting, sculpture and installation that has made him one of the most important European artists of the past four decades. He attended the School of Fine Arts at Fribourg-in-Brisgau, then the Art Academy in Karlsruhe, while maintaining contact with Joseph Beuys, but soon began to develop his own deliberately indigenous set of subjects and symbols that he used to explore the fraught territory of German history and identity. In his muscular artistic language, physical materiality and visual complexity enliven his themes and content with a rich, vibrant tactility.

He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at The Royal Academy, London (2014) and Centre Georges Pompidou and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris in 2015.