Anselm Kiefer (1945 - )

Des Malers Atelier

The Painter’s Studio
    Oil, emulsion, woodcut, shellac, acrylic and straw on canvas
281 × 281 cm
Signatures and Inscriptions
Titled ΄Des Malers Atelier΄ (lower right)
Current location
Basil & Elise Goulandris Foundation, Athens
Floor 3rd
Tour Guide Code
Audio Guide

Kiefer was born in 1945 and grew up in the desolation, the division and the ruins that the World War II left behind. In the society of the Federal Republic of Germany that opts for silence before its Nazi past, Kiefer approaches the dark aspect of humanity, reflecting again and again on what we, modern people, would have done under the same circumstances compared to the German population of the time.

In this process, the artist’s role is not to participate in the collective redemption of the faults of humanity. On the contrary, he has the mission to challenge, to question and, above all, to create Beauty, even from mud. Thus, many of his paintings evoke the painter as a lonely being while, Kiefer is particularly interested in painter’s studio, this often secret place, where the artist isolates himself in order to give free rein to his instinct. Most of the time, he depicts the studio as a vast, empty wooden space, from an angle deliberately emphasizing a claustrophobic feeling. On other occasions, as in the work presented here, it is seen from the outside, lost in a ravaged agricultural landscape, where earth and sky are mixed together in the same darkness. The studio emerges from this nightmarish illusion, like a building from another age, a mysterious construction recalling a primitive hut, a witch’s castle, a lighthouse lost in a tempest, a bombarded factory. For Kiefer, who constantly places architecture at the centre of his work, representing the painter’s studio on the pictorial surface, is a meaningful act, rich in sense but also in emotion: it is the place where creator and creature are formed; where the work matures, transforms and potentially ends; where the creator struggles, persists and possibly achieves his goal.

Just like the process of creation, Kiefer’s pictorial universe appears at first glance gloomy, desolate, deeply pessimistic. However, this is not the case at all. As the observation progresses, we distinguish a range of colours being much more elaborate and vivid. Where the landscape appeared devastated, one begins to feel that from these ruins something fresh and new may spring up.

The painter’s studio is part of a series of paintings carried out in 1983 where straw, reminding of his childhood according to Kiefer, plays a fundamental role in the composition. Thanks to relentless work requiring an equal level of intellectual concentration and physical effort, the pictorial material appears damaged, crumpled, heterogeneous. We are far from smooth, varnish finished surfaces. It simply seems that traditional painting techniques are not enough for Kiefer. By creating his own matter, mixing his materials as an alchemist, he offers his creation a completely new dimension, both personal in its expression and universal in its reach.



Anselm Kiefer
(1945 - )
First Name
Last Name
Donaueschingen, Germany, 1945