Notebooks, Volume 1: 1998–99

Anselm Kiefer

Translated by Tess Lewis


9780857424006 October 2016

ISBN : 9780857424006

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‘For a long time, it was not clear if I would become a writer or an artist,”’ says Anselm Kiefer, whose paintings and sculptures have made him one of the most significant and influential artists of our time. Since he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2008, his essays, speeches and lectures have gradually received more attention, but until now his diary accounts have been almost completely unknown. The power in Kiefer’s images, however, is rivalled by his writings on nature and history, literature and antiquity, and mysticism and mythology.

The first volume of Notebooks spans the years 1998–99 and traces the origins and creative process of Kiefer’s visual works during this period. In this volume, Kiefer returns constantly to his touchstones: sixteenth-century alchemist Robert Fludd, 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, and let readers witness the process of thoughts, experiences and adventures slowly transcending the limits of art, achieving meaning in and beyond their medium.

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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