Artist: Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
Medium: Watercolor, gouache, and graphite on paper
Dimensions: 17 x 14 1/8 in. (43.2 x 35.9 cm)
Credit Line: Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995
Accession Number: 1995.14.5
As with another work from the same period that depicts a frozen, barren landscape (see Everyone Stands Under His Own Dome of Heaven, 1995.14.4), Kiefer experiments here with landscape to generate layers of meaning. Contemplation of wild or "sublime" landscapes was a trope of Romantic-era picture-making, particularly in Germany (see Caspar David Friedrich's Two Men Contemplating the Moon, 2000.51; Romanticism), but the earth depicted here has been roughly plowed and blanketed with snow, and the spare trees in the background lend a bleakness to the work. A disembodied female head rises above the field, bleeding from the neck, and spots of blood-red watercolor tinge the pale ground. Kiefer perhaps had in mind mythological personifications of nature-Daphne, for example, who was metamorphosed into a laurel tree by her father to escape the attentions of Apollo. Yet this depiction of a ruined terrain, spotted with blood, is difficult to separate from evocations of the scarring wounds of World War II.