Archive for November 25th, 2019


As an artist you have to find something that deeply interests you. It’s not enough to make art that is about art, to look at Matisse and Picasso and say, how can I paint like them? You have to be obsessed by something that can’t come out in any other way, then the other things – the skill and technique – will follow.

–Anselm Kiefer


Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) is one contemporary artist that continually fascinate me. His work often deals with history and how we in the present time are connected to it. One of his projects is a long term exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art that features 30 very large paintings, all about 6′ by 11′, assembled in one space. The exhibit is titled Velimir Chlebnikov based on a theory from the Russian Futurist of that name ( who died in 1922 at the age of 36) who believed that major naval battles happened every 317 years and had some sort of cosmic importance for the human race.

This group of paintings from Kiefer deal with nautical warfare and are built up on heavily textured grounds comprised of a variety of materials one doesn’t often associate with painting–dirt, sand, straw, rust and lead. It’s gritty and rough yet striking and somehow beautiful at the same time.

Now, I can’t comment on the theory. Maybe there is something in Chlebnikov’s metaphysical numerology. Who knows?

But I can comment on the impact of the assemblage and display of this group of work, this obsession of Kiefer. As an artist, I find it awe inspiring. It makes me want to push beyond my own creative inhibitions, to work on my own obsession in a way that makes a large statement.

Big work.

Bold work.

Work that pushes past what I know and how I work now.

Work that forces me in a direction I can’t foresee.

Work that changes me in some fundamental way.

It’s something to think about.

I guess that is one way in which art influences art.

Anselm Kiefer’s Velimir Chlebnikov, a series of 30 paintings devoted to the Russian philosopher who posited that war is inevitable, is on display at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.



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