Anselm Kiefer is a German painter and sculptor. His work spans many mediums and often incorporates unique materials such as clay, straw, ash, and shellac. Kiefer was born in Germany just a few months before the end of World War II, and his work largely focuses on understanding and exposing the violence of Germany’s past, specifically the rise of Nazism and the horrors of the Holocaust. Kiefer’s work is unflinching in its attempt to bring viewers face to face with the dark side of history, often producing work on a large and confrontational scale. He also attempts to pepper his work with signatures or names of people and places of particular historical importance. He turns these names into sigils, pictorial symbols often used in ancient magic, as a tool to process the past.
Kiefer’s work in the Lannan Collection, Der Ritt An Die Weichel [Ride to the Vistula], is inspired by the Battle of the Vistula River, also known as the Battle of Warsaw, a Russian victory against the German Empire and Austria-Hungary on the Eastern Front during World War I. Kiefer has had solo exhibitions of his work all over the world including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. His work is also part of collections at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Tate Modern, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, among others.