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Contribution to Book
Cosmic Stutters: Anselm Kiefer's Search for Redemption in the Stars
Heavenly Discourses (2016)
  • John G. Hatch
Anselm Kiefer's work engages esoteric philosophy in an attempt to addre ss German guilt regarding the Holocaust, or Shoah as it is referred to in Hebrew. Since the late 1970s, Kiefer has drawn on the Kabbalah and alchemy as two key sources that help give some sense of direction to the long process of healing the events of the Second World War. In his most recent work , Kiefer has rephrased these issues using stellar imagery, adding yet another layer of meaning to his quest. As a German Christian with little knowledge of Judaism, Kiefer had to immerse himself in the teachings of Jewish mysticism as well as the history of Judaism in Germany . Alchemy enters the fold as both a warning of the destructive excesses of the human ego, a lesson learned from Nazi Germany's appropriation of the occult, and as a torch guiding us in dealing with the barbarism of human behaviour. In particular Kiefer is attracted to the cosmic unity proposed by the seventeenth-century mystic Robert Fludd . He incorporates diverse plant imagery and the element lead in both paintings and book works which he has dedicated to Fludd ; these works suggest some hope for the future but equally imply the impossibility of gaining the desired ideal of a holistic vision of the cosmos. Kiefer's work represents one of the more engaging examples of contemporary art that, through the use of the night sky, addres ses in a novel way a variety of mystical sources in order to deal with a very modern trauma.
  • Anselm Kiefer,
  • Astronomy,
  • painting,
  • science
Publication Date
Nicholas Campion
Sophie Centre Press
Citation Information
John G. Hatch. "Cosmic Stutters: Anselm Kiefer's Search for Redemption in the Stars" Ceredigion, WalesHeavenly Discourses (2016) p. 263 - 270
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