Anselm Kiefer

/Works and biography


Thy Golden Hair Margarethe (Dein goldenes Haar Margarethe), 1981
Acrylic, emulsion, charcoal and straw on burlap, 118 x 145 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012
© Anselm Kiefer


In 1945 Paul Celan composed a poem entitled ‘Death Fugue’ from the concentration camp where he was imprisoned. The poem contraposes two women: Shulamith, one of the camp’s Jewish workers, and Margarete, an Aryan mistress of the presiding Gestapo officer. In this sculptural painting Kiefer draws on Celan’s poem as a means to explore the complex relationships between German self-identity and world history. Here, the effects of war scar the landscape of Germany. Ash covers the flowers in the lower right corner while straw is set like jail-bars across the foreground. The canvas documents a process of transformation: straw disintegrates to ash when exposed to fire. Through this, the ghosts of Shulamith and Margarete are evoked: reduced only to their contrasting hair; made of the same element but set in opposition by the fires of history.

credits: Hangar Design Group