Notebooks, Volume 1, 1998–99

Anselm Kiefer

Translated by Tess Lewis

Out of Print


6 x 9 inches, 364pp November 2015

ISBN : 9780857423092

Rs  950.00 (HB)
$35.00 (HB)
£24.50 (HB)

‘I have written since I was small and there was always an internal battle in me: whether to become a writer or a painter. For a long time it was not clear if I would become a writer or an artist.’—Anselm Kiefer

The only visual artist to have won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Anselm Kiefer is a profoundly literate and literary painter.  In fact, more than half his output takes the form of artist books.  His paintings, sculptures and installations have won him acclaim as one of the most prominent artists of his generation alongside Gerhard Richter and George Baselitz. And yet, although Kiefer writes down ideas, fantasies and insights on an almost daily basis either in small notebooks or on his computer, his notebooks remained unknown until recently. The power of his images find their counterpart in these unique entries elaborating Kiefer’s discourse on nature and history, literature and antiquity, mysticism and mythology.

The first volume of the Notebooks spans the years 1998 and 1999 and traces the origins and creative process of his visual works during this time. In this volume, Kiefer returns constantly to his touchstones: the sixteenth-century alchemist Robert Fludd, the German Romantic poet Novalis, Martin Heidegger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Robert Musil and many other writers and thinkers. The entries reveal the process by which his artworks are informed by his reading and vice versa and track the development of the works he created in the late 1990s, most notably Women of the Revolution and Women of Antiquity.  Kiefer’s writing charts the single steps, sometimes forwards, sometimes back, taken in the course of his ambitious attempt to transcend the limits of art, to achieve meaning in and beyond art.   

Anselm Kiefer has produced a diverse body of work comprising of painting, sculpture and installation that has made him one of the most important European artists of the past four decades. After studying law, and Romance languages and literature, Kiefer devoted himself entirely to painting. He attended the School of Fine Arts at Fribourg-in-Brisgau, then the Art Academy in Karlsruhe, while maintaining contact with Joseph Beuys, but soon began to develop his own deliberately indigenous set of subjects and symbols that he used to explore the fraught territory of German history and identity. He has exhibited widely, including solo shows at MoMA, New York (1987); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1991); The Metropolitan Museum, New York (1998); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006); Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; the Grand Palais, Paris, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2007); and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2011). In 2007, Kiefer became the first artist to be commissioned to install a permanent work at the Louvre, Paris since Georges Braque some 50 years earlier. He has lived and worked in France since 1993.   


Tess Lewis has translated seven books and numerous essays and articles from French and German. Her translations include works by Peter Handke, Alois Hotschnig, Julya Rabinowich, Lukas B�rfuss, Philippe Jaccottet, Pascal Bruckner and Jean-Luc Benoziglio among others. She has been awarded a PEN Translation Fund grant and an NEA Translation Fellowship. She also serves as an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review and writes essays on European Literature for various literary journals and newspapers.

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