Anselm Kiefer

Thy Golden Hair Margarethe


In 1945, Paul Celan composed a poem titled "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 of exploring the complex relationships between German self-identity and world history. 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 into 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.

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Artist Anselm Kiefer
Original Title Dein goldenes Haar Margarethe
Date 1981
Medium Acrylic, emulsion, charcoal and straw on burlap
Dimensions 118 x 145 cm
Credit line Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection, bequest of Hannelore B. Schulhof, 2012
Accession 2012.74
Collection Schulhof Collection
Type Painting

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