Close this search box.

Anselm Kiefer


Anselm Kiefer is one of the most renowned contemporary artists of our time. His monumental works have challenged viewers and pushed the boundaries of art. Despite facing controversy and criticism, Kiefer persisted in creating powerful pieces that force reflection on humanity's greatest atrocities and deepest questions. 

More Facts

Name: Anselm

Surname: Kiefer

Lives & Works:

Lives in State:


Date of Birth:



Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer is one of the most renowned contemporary artists of our time. His monumental works have challenged viewers and pushed the boundaries of art. Despite facing controversy and criticism, Kiefer persisted in creating powerful pieces that force reflection on humanity’s greatest atrocities and deepest questions. 

His lifelong dedication to his craft and pursuit of meaning demonstrates the profound impact one person can have on the world through creative expression. Anselm Kiefer artworks stand as a testament to the human capacity for both darkness and beauty. Though born in the shadows of World War II, Kiefer’s masterful creations have brought illumination. His vision and voice will continue to inspire generations.

Anselm Kiefer Biography

Image Credit: MoMA

Early Life and Education

The birthplace and date of Anselm Kiefer is Donaueschingen, Germany in 1945. He grew up surrounded by the aftermath of World War II, with the ruins of cities and a defeated nation. This post-war landscape shaped his worldview and later inspired his monumental and often grim works.

Kiefer studied law at the University of Freiburg and art at the University of Karlsruhe. He was mentored by conceptual artist Joseph Beuys, who encouraged students to probe Germany’s problematic history. Kiefer began exploring these themes in his work, using materials like straw, ash, clay, and lead to represent destruction and rebirth.

In 1969, Kiefer moved to Düsseldorf where he befriended other young artists like Gerhard Richter. During this period, he created controversial works that incorporated Nazi salutes and photographs of deserted concentration camps. These provocative pieces led to major public backlash and even legal prosecution. However, he continued using loaded World War II-era imagery and symbols in his art to force audiences to confront painful historical truths.

In the 1980s, Kiefer’s style evolved as he started incorporating more literary and mystical references in his paintings. He began working with large-scale canvases, applying thick impasto paint, and found materials to create emotionally intense landscapes and abstract scenes. Kiefer’s art grew more sculptural, often incorporating entire rooms and buildings. His ambitious, monumental works have solidified his status as one of the most important German artists of his time.

Kiefer’s enduring fascination with Germany’s fraught history and his desire to memorialize human existence have produced a vast, complex body of work. Spanning over 50 years, Kiefer’s art gives form to humankind’s capacity for creation and destruction, and the possibility of transcendence even in the darkest of times.

What is Anselm Kiefer Known for?

Image Credit: MoMA

Anselm Kiefer is known for his monumental and controversial works that grapple with Germany’s history. Early in his career, Kiefer developed a distinctive style characterized by a gloomy and rough-hewn esthetic.

Anselm Kiefer sculptures and paintings frequently incorporate materials that invoke a sense of decay and destruction, such as straw, ash, clay, and lead. His works are often large in scale, with some paintings spanning up to 30 feet wide. This monumentality gives his art a looming, ominous quality and confronts viewers with difficult themes relating to German history and identity.

The artist is fascinated by mysticism and mythology, and his art is rich in cultural, historical, and literary allusions. Kiefer studied law and Romance languages before becoming an artist, and his wide-ranging interests are reflected in his art. His paintings, for example, often incorporate poetic fragments, mythical symbols, and references to seminal thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche.

Two famous paintings are:

  • Shulamite (1983) 
  • Die Milchstrasse (The Milky Way, 1985-87)

Career Highlights

Image Credit: MoMA

Kiefer and German National Identity: Confronting the Past

Anselm Kiefer is one of Germany’s most prominent postwar artists. His large-scale, expressive works confront the country’s Nazi past and grapple with issues of German national identity.

Kiefer’s Use of National Symbols

Kiefer incorporated Germanic and Nordic mythological symbols in his work but subverted them to address Germany’s history. He used materials like straw, ash, clay, lead, and shellac to create heavy, monumental pieces.

Kiefer’s 1969 Occupations series addressed Nazism’s appropriation of myth. His paintings incorporated Nazi salutes, Germanic runes, and images of historical figures like Austrian poet Georg Trakl. The works provoked discomfort by evoking the Third Reich’s idealization of history and mythology.

Confronting Difficult History

Kiefer’s work did not shy away from confronting the trauma, guilt, and responsibility of Germany’s past. His later work incorporated more universal themes of human suffering, loss, and existence. 

But his art continues to be rooted in coming to terms with Germany’s difficult history. Kiefer represents the ongoing struggle to forge a national identity in the shadow of the Holocaust. Through his evocative use of materials, mythology, and provocative symbolism, Kiefer’s art has made a substantial contribution to Germany’s long reckoning with its past.

Anselm Keifer LIST OF WORK

Image Credit: MoMA

Major Works and Exhibitions: Launching an International Career

By the late 1970s, Kiefer’s work was gaining widespread critical acclaim and international recognition. In the following decades, Kiefer continued to produce epic paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works meditating on German culture and identity. Retrospectives of his art were held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kunsthalle in Basel, Switzerland, and the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. By the 2010s, Kiefer was considered one of the most influential European artists of his generation.

Some of the glimpses of Anselm Keifer most famous work are:


Paintings, installations, and books

Keifer’s work began incorporating the German forest as a symbol. The dense, dark forests represented Germany’s past and a longing for primordial origins. Kiefer saw the forest as a place of hiding, mythology, and dark history.


Quaternity painting

The painting depicted a forest path shaped into a swastika, linking nature and Nazism.


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

The show featured his large-scale paintings incorporating straw, lead, and other organic and industrial materials.


Venice Biennale, Art exhibition

He created a series of monumental paintings for the German Pavilion, cementing his status as a leading Neo-Expressionist artist.


Die Rheinland-Pfalz

The painting explored the Nazi era’s legacy. It incorporated a desolate landscape, abandoned watchtowers, and the names of concentration camps.


The Cauterization of the District

These works transform industrial materials into symbolic forms.


Ash flower


Anselm Keifer (book)

Collections of photographs

The prizes he got for his paintings are:

  • PraemiumImperiale prize in 1999
  • The Peace Prize in 2008

Retrospectives of Kiefer’s work have been held at:

  • The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2014-15)
  • The Center Pompidou, Paris (2007) 
  • The Guggenheim Bilbao (2005-06)

Famous Artwork by Anselm Kiefer

Titel: Margarete (1981) by Anselm Kiefer (Saatchi collection)

Credite (Saatchi collection)

What could an NFT Story of Anselm Kiefer sound like?

Step into the digital realm and witness the enchanting NFT story of Anselm Kiefer unfold before your eyes. Through a series of immersive artworks, Kiefer’s iconic masterpieces come to life in a new dimension, infused with the magic of the blockchain.

Journey alongside Kiefer as he explores the vast landscapes of his imagination, weaving together tales of history, mythology, and the human experience. Each NFT is a portal into a captivating narrative, where you’ll encounter ancient gods, mystical realms, and poignant reflections on the passage of time.

As you delve deeper into the story, you’ll find yourself immersed in interactive environments, where you can navigate through ethereal landscapes and unlock hidden layers of meaning. Every brushstroke and intricate detail pulsates with energy, drawing you into a dialogue between the artist’s vision and your own interpretation.

Through the power of NFTs, Kiefer invites you to become an active participant in his artistic narrative. Collect these digital treasures and hold a piece of Kiefer’s visionary world, forever preserved on the blockchain. Each NFT is a token of connection, bridging the gap between artist and audience, forging a new chapter in the history of art.

Join Anselm Kiefer on this groundbreaking digital odyssey, where the past converges with the future, and art transcends the boundaries of time and space. Prepare to be captivated, inspired, and forever changed by the immersive NFT story of one of the greatest artists of our time.

What could a NFT collection of Anselm Kiefer look like?

Anselm Kiefer NFT2

Follow Anselm Kiefer social media


More about Anselm Kiefer




Discover Artists



Page link

Link successfully copied. Ready to paste!