Nigredo (1984) by Anselm Kiefer

Nigredo - Anselm Kiefer - 1984

Artwork Information

ArtistAnselm Kiefer
MediumOil, Acrylic, emulsion, shellac, and straw
Dimensions130 x 218 1/2 in. (330 x 555 cm)
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art

About Nigredo

Anselm Kiefer (German, born 1945) is an artist who has explored Germany’s history, mythology, and postwar identity since the mid-1970s. Born in Donaueschingen, he initially studied law before turning to art. Kiefer uses a diverse range of materials in his work which he combines according to his emotional response to them. In 1984 he created a performance for which he was photographed giving a Nazi-style salute at various cities across Europe; this work was part of his series called Nigredo.

Nigredo refers to blackening, putrefaction, or decay—a theme that continues throughout much of Kiefer’s work. Notably in 1974 he produced another performance wherein he was pictured laying in March Heath- an image that has become iconic amongst other works by Anselm Kiefer with its bleak and desolate atmosphere. His artworks are often noted for their intense symbolism and themes related to modern European history and trauma in a post-war world.

Kiefer’s distinctive approach has gained him international acclaim and a prominent position among the world’s most renowned contemporary artists. March Heath from 1974 is a prime example of this, displaying his use of symbolic elements in order to provide deep introspection into the realities of wartime traumas, with the piece still captivating viewers today as one of the most powerful images associated with Anselm Kiefer.

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