Artist: Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
Date: ca. 1980
Medium: Gouache and acrylic on photograph
Dimensions: 32 1/2 x 23 1/8 in. (82.6 x 58.7 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number: 1995.14.36
In one of the Old Norse Eddic poems, the Ballad of Gimnir (or Odin, chief of the gods, who narrates), the structure of the universe is described as a vast evergreen ash tree, Yggdrasil. Posing as the tree here is Kiefer himself in a self-portrait photograph taken in 1969, in which he wears a crocheted dress and holds a branch (it has been pointed out that die Kiefer in German is a type of pine tree). He has painted in the stump of the tree on which he stands and adds a serpent-like dragon, Nidhöggs, who gnaws at its roots. At left the world itself is represented by a rough caricature of a snow globe in which pines surround a little house, a quaint scene that brings to mind scenes of the Black Forest where the artist was raised.