Anselm Kiefer On My Shelf
Wherever we turn in the storm of roses,
the night is lit up by thorns, and the thunder
of leaves, once so quiet within the bushes,
rumbling at our heels.– Ingeborg Bachmann, 1953
Anselm Kiefer’s work is inextricably bound with literature. In his notebooks, he addresses himself: ‘For you poems are like buoys in a sea. you swim from one to the other, without them you’re without direction, lost.’ (2017). The painting above takes its title from Ingeborg Bachmann's poem, 'In the Storm of Roses / Im Gewitter der Rosen’. Bachmann’s tragically beautiful poem, like Kiefer’s paintings, explores the debilitating nature of catastrophe.
In many of his works Kiefer establishes a symbiotic relationship between painting and writing. This aspect has been further explored by Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk in an insightful text entitled 'Words and Images’, on his encounter with the artist published in the catalogue for the exhibition we presented at our Salzburg gallery in 2015: ‘Is it possible, then, to look at a painting and be able, ultimately, to read it? Is it possible to treat a book as a painting, and a painting as a book?’ ('Words and Images’, Orhan Pamuk, 2015).