Art in NYC: Provocations by Anselm Kiefer at the Met Breuer

Art in NYC: Provocations by Anselm Kiefer at the Met Breuer

Kiefer’s works from the Met Museum collection on view until April 8, 2018

Met Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer, Bohemia Lies by the Sea, 1996 © Anselm Kiefer / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

The exhibition at the Met Breuer “Provocations: Anselm Kiefer” presents selected works from the Met collection covering artist’s 50-year career. Well known for pushing the boundaries of comfortable art and sleepy consciousness, Kiefer’s paintings, watercolors, and collages shake the norms by questioning the stale and tired concepts. The art lovers, sophisticated and novices, will appreciate the introspection and depth of thought that this expose projects. The exhibition is on view from December 13, 2017 until April 8, 2018.

Met Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm KieferBorn in Donaueschingen, Germany in 1945 two months before the end of World War II, Anselm Kiefer through his art confronts Germany’s dark past and the horrors of Holocaust. A distinguished element of his work is an intermix of various forms of artistic expression. He incorporates references to ancient folk epics such as Gilgamesh, European expressionistic and futuristic literature, German mythology and Cabalistic symbolism while experimenting with new materials, forms and dimensions.

Met Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer, Your Golden Hair, Margarete, 1980 © Anselm Kiefer / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

Starting his artistic career as a photographer in late 1960s, Kiefer staged the images by photographing himself wearing old Nazi uniform. The resulting pictures provoke a re-evaluation and acknowledgment of the horrific and not that distant past. The scenes from that period were later depicted in his watercolors which are included in the Met expose such as a watercolor “Untitled (Heroic Symbols)” from 1969.

There are more examples of the reuse of the old images in this exhibition. They are in the form of gouache, acrylic and other media layered over the black and white photographs as in the “Big Iron Fist” from 1980-81. The stylistic recycling of the pictures relates to the theme of transformation, which is explored by Kiefer in this and other works influenced by the futuristic Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov.

Met Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer, Winter Landscape, 1970 ©Anselm Kiefer / Image courtesy of the Met Museum

Poetry and literature are taking a prominent place in Kiefer’s works. His watercolor from 1980 “Your Golden Hair, Margarete” uses a reference to Romanian Jewish writer Paul Celan‘s poem “Todesfuge” (“Death Fugue”). The title for this work is a line from Celan’s verses. The burden of the past is a subject of another watercolor “Winter Landscape” from 1970. Its snow-covered earth spotted with the blood from the woman’s head hovering over the field makes an eery reference to the Nazi “Blood and Soil” slogan.

With Wagnerian references occupying a big space in Kiefer’s oeuvre, there are several watercolors under the same title “My Father Pledged Me a Sword” pointing to Die Walkure and other works incorporating the scene and subjects of cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Wagnerian theme and the topic of final destruction was extensively presented in the last year exhibition at the White Cube Bermondsey gallery in London titled Walhalla. Some pieces in that exhibition looked like “a set for Wagner’s Götterdämmerung” in the words of The Guardian review by Jonathan Jones.

Kabbalah and mythology are also giving Kiefer considerable inspiration. A collage on photograph “Azimuth” from 2004 is one of such. The artist’s interest in mystical scriptures and history of civilizations had been nurtured by the trip to Israel which the author took in 1984.

While the exhibition samples the major turning point in the artist’s oeuvre, his latest works using new material, a return to erotic watercolors and books are not presented at the Met Breuer. Gagosian Gallery in New York City held an exhibition of those works in the summer of 2017. The leitmotif there was an interplay of femininity and rebirth.

Kiefer is often likened to Rodin in his depiction of emotions which invokes historical dilemmas and human relationships. As the world celebrated a centennial of Rodin death 2017, Rodin Museum in Paris and Barnes Foundation have Kiefer Rodin exhibition ongoing. It was on view at Rodin Museum in Paris until October 22, 2017 , then moved to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA from November 17, 2017 – March 12, 2018.

Time: December 13, 2017 – April 8, 2018

Venue: The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Ave, NY

With the New York Pass your can enjoy a free visit to the Met Breuer!

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Met Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm KieferMet Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm KieferMet Breuer Museum NYC Provocations Anselm Kiefer

Art at NYC: Edvard Munch at the Met Breuer

Art at NYC: Edvard Munch at the Met Breuer

Edvard Munch: “Between the Clock and the Bed” on November 15, 2017 – February 4, 2018

The Met Museum Edvard Munch Between the Clock and the Bed
Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed, 1940–43 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo © Munch Museum / Image courtesy of The Met Museum

The Met Breuer exhibition of works by Edvard Munch (1861-1944), a Norwegian Expressionist artist, gives the viewers a chance to see the paintings from the Munch Museum in Oslo and other European and private collections. Some of the paintings are shown in New York for the first time.

The exhibition makes a moody and sobering impression as one would expect at a mention of the artist’s name. Munch is known for powerfully presenting the emotional moments of life repeating the same situations in multiple versions. Opening up with the self-portrait which gives the title to the exhibition, the show explores the themes dear to the artist to which he kept returning to at different stages of his life. The exhibition will run through February 4, 2018.

The Met Museum Edvard Munch Between the Clock and the Bed
The Dance of Life, 1925, © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Photo © Munch Museum / Image courtesy of The Met Museum

Edvard Munch was born in 1861 to the family of a medical officer. His mother and then his beloved sister Sophie had died from tuberculosis when he was 14. These tragic events made a very strong impression on the future artist and were later depicted in many of his works. Munch himself had suffered from many of diseases in childhood. Later he was haunted by depression and alcohol dependency. His personal life was stressful and unhappy. So, naturally his works are full of high tensions and despair.

Starting drawing from a young age, Munch had enrolled into the Royal School of Art and Design of Kristiania, Norway where he experimented with various expressionist styles. He visited Paris and Berlin and sampled the artistic scenes there coming under the influences of major artists of the early 90s. In that productive period, he sketched or created the first versions of many of the themes to which he kept returning, again and again, later in life.

The Met Museum Edvard Munch Between the Clock and the Bed
Sick Mood at Sunset, Despair, 1892, Thielska Galleriet, Sweden © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, photo by Tord Lund © Thielska Galleriet, Sweden / Image courtesy of The Met Museum

While he came to fame rather early in his career in the late 1880s – early 1890s, Munch himself believed that he reached his breakthrough in art when he was fifty. By that time he already resettled back in Norway after a turbulent life on the move between France, Germany, and Denmark. In 1908-1909 he suffered a mental breakdown from which he recovered upon his return to his native Norway. The result of the emotional torments gave us his famously high-strung paintings.

This current exhibition at the Met Breuer presents about 50 of Munch’s works. Each gallery in the exhibition is dedicated to a theme: Self-Portraits, Nocturnes, Despair, Sickness and Death, Puberty and Passion, Attraction and Repulsion, and In the Studio. This thematic rather than a chronological arrangement allows the viewer to follow the artist’s maturity of style and the changes in technique. As Munch was coming back to the same subject repeatedly with years in between, the ascents of colors and the pace of strokes conveys his personal take on the same situation over time. The FT review points out that “these juxtapositions is at once stunning and depressing, a showcase of genius and delusion.” A group of works under the Despair theme includes a lithograph of “The Scream” from 1895.

Munch’s landscapes and life scenes en plain air are characteristically unsoothing and moody. The low skies, the broody sunsets and eery reflections of in the water are alarming. The tensions continue in the paintings of his studio. Even the tender embrace of “The Kiss” surrounded by the dark background while sensual and tender, doesn’t promise a happy ending. Munch’s great genius of catching the emotional dread and the pain of the soul is in full view here. “Who better to guide us through our own fatalistic age?” asks rhetorically the review of the exhibition in The New York Times.

Time: November 15, 2017 – February 4, 2018

Venue: The Met Breuer, 945 Madison Ave, NY

With the New York Pass your can enjoy a free visit to the Met Breuer!Planning a trip to NYC?

While you are at the Met Breuer stop by another exhibition there Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason which will be closing on January 14, 2018.