Established by Larry Gagosian in Los Angeles in 1980, Gagosian is a global gallery specializing in modern and contemporary art that employs more than three hundred people at seventeen exhibition spaces across the United States, Europe, and Asia. In addition to its galleries, Gagosian is at the forefront of the digital marketplace with innovative online viewing rooms, timed to coincide with major art fairs, that include highly desirable works by today’s leading artists, transparent pricing, historical scholarship, and insightful market analysis.
For the fifth episode of Gagosian Premieres, we celebrate “Anselm Kiefer: Field of the Cloth of Gold”—a new exhibition at Gagosian, Le Bourget—with a conversation between the artist and art historian James Cuno and a debut ballet performance by Hugo Marchand and Hannah O’Neill, choreographed by Florent Melac and set to music composed by Steve Reich. In this exhibition, across fields of golden corn and ominous skies, the artist conjures the palpable sense of treading through landscape. Completed over the past two years, the monumental paintings—whose scale reflects the actual landscapes they depict—evoke the stories of history. In this episode of Gagosian Premieres, James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, speaks to the artist in an exclusive interview about the inextricable relationship between history and place that animates the works on view. Hugo Marchand and Hannah O’Neill—principal dancer and first soloist, respectively, at the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris—perform original choreography by Florent Melac in the gallery. Set to Steve Reich’s “Duet,” a contemplative composition scored for two solo violins and a string ensemble, the dance was created in direct response to Kiefer’s exhibition of monumental paintings in the vast Jean Nouvel–designed former airplane hangar.
Anselm Kiefer (born 8 March 1945) is a German painter and sculptor. He studied with Peter Dreher and Horst Antes at the end of the 1960s. His works incorporate materials such as straw, ash, clay, lead, and shellac. The poems of Paul Celan have played a role in developing Kiefer’s themes of German history and the horror of the Holocaust, as have the spiritual concepts of Kabbalah.
In his entire body of work, Kiefer argues with the past and addresses taboo and controversial issues from recent history. Themes from Nazi rule are particularly reflected in his work; for instance, the painting Margarethe (oil and straw on canvas) was inspired by Celan’s well-known poem “Todesfuge” (“Death Fugue”).
His works are characterised by an unflinching willingness to confront his culture’s dark past, and unrealised potential, in works that are often done on a large, confrontational scale well suited to the subjects. It is also characteristic of his work to find signatures and names of people of historical importance, legendary figures or historical places. All of these are encoded sigils through which Kiefer seeks to process the past; this has resulted in his work being linked with the movements New Symbolism and Neo–Expressionism.
Kiefer has lived and worked in France since 1992. Since 2008, he has lived and worked primarily in Paris. In 2018, he was awarded Austrian citizenship.
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