Anselm Kiefer and Pascal Dusapin create a permanent installation for the Pantheon
Anselm Kiefer and French composer Pascal Dusapin have been commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron to make permanent works for the Pantheon in Paris. It is the first time in almost a century that new art has been installed in the historic monument. Known as France’s ‘Hall of Fame’, the Pantheon is home to the remains of many renowned individuals, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Jean Jaurès and Marie Curie. The works were unveiled during a Remembrance Day ceremony marking writer Maurice Genevoix’s entry into the Pantheon.
After meeting with Emmanuel Macron, Anselm Kiefer and Pascal Dusapin were commissioned to make a work in tribute to Genevoix (1890-1980), the renowned author of 'Ceux de 14', based on his experiences of fighting in the trenches during the First World War. Pascal Dusapin has conceived the sound installation In Nome Lucis composed of spheric men's and women's songs and with the resonance of the names of 15,000 people who died in the war.
For the permanent installation, Anselm Kiefer has created six large glass-and-steel vitrines featuring transcriptions of phrases written by Genevoix and comprising rusted barbed wire, lead books, red flowers, golden ears of corn rising from ruins or a battalion of worn-out bicycles. In addition to his vitrines, Anselm Kiefer presents a temporary display of his monumental paintings 'La voie sacrée' and 'Ceux de 14 - l’Armée noire - Celles de 14' depicting winter landscapes that appear simultaneously devastated and spiritual.
The artist states: ‘Genevoix is a poet, and yet how do you make a poem about this? The cold, the mud, the lack of sleep, the death, the massacres. From this horror he has drawn a superb book whose elements are affection, brotherhood, absurdity and the consoling beauty of nature. In spite of the subject he cannot, one cannot avoid beauty. Can the artist prevent Evil, the worst horror under his hands, from becoming beauty? Because for an artist, a poet, a writer, there is nothing he cannot use as a material. It is a paradox.’