Margarete is an oil, acrylic, emulsion, and straw on canvas artwork created by German artist Anselm Kiefer in 1981. The painting represents the German love of land and the nobility of the German soul. Kiefer’s work with symbolism through minimalism and abstract expressionism is evident in this significant piece that touches on complex notions of racial purity.
The painting references Paul Celan’s poem “Death Fugue” and owes much to the vision of German womanhood created by Goethe. Margarete is part of Kiefer’s series about Nazi rule, which explores Germany’s past and its impact on the present day. This particular piece highlights his fascination with textures as he utilized straw for the first time in this series, which he favored for its palpable, flexible, and transitory features.
Kiefer plays with symbols throughout Margarete to explore ideas around racial identity and Germany’s history during World War II. The image of Margarete symbolizes a nationalistic notion of purity rooted in agrarian ideologies; it’s alluding to how Germans saw themselves as fundamentally different from other races. In summary, Margarete represents a deeply contemplative analysis of Germany’s past with emotionally powerful human themes interwoven into every crestfallen brushstroke made onto canvas.