Anselm Kiefer. Essence-Eksistence

First solo exhibition of Anselm Kiefer in Sweden presents around 50 works from the Grothe Collection

4. Juni 2022 – 8. Januar 2023
Artipelag, Gustavsberg Schweden

Anselm Kiefer, Essence-Eksistence, 2011. Öl, Emulsion, Acryl, Schellack, Salzkrusten und Farbreste auf Leinwand. Erster Teil eines dreiteiligen Werks, 280×570 cm (dieser Teil) / © Courtesy Kiefer-collection Grothe in Kunsthalle Mannheim.

This summer, Artipelag is celebrating its tenth anniversary by presenting its largest venture to date. Saturday 4 June sees the opening of the exhibition titled Essence-Eksistence featuring the work of German artist Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945). Although Kiefer is one of the world’s greatest living artists, his work has never been exhibited in Sweden on a larger scale.

The exhibition, curated by Walter Smerling, focusses on the development of Kiefer’s oeuvre encompassing paintings, sculptures, and installations. Intimately linked to German history, his works touch upon the nation’s identity from the Romantic era to WWII, when it was in post-war ruins. Kiefer’s artistry alludes to philosophy, literature, religion, and scientific theories that coalesce into a complex contemporary world view. His art is not confined within a single area but has a vast range of both subject and material and a practice that encompasses destruction and re-creation. It frequently references other cultural creators, such as poets Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann.

“Arranging a comprehensive Kiefer exhibition these days is a delicate task, and virtually impossible without access to a collection that offers great depth and breadth. Fortunately, we’ve been given access to the Grothe Collection – the largest private Kiefer collection in the world. It was initiated by the German entrepreneur Hans Grothe in close consultation with Kiefer himself. As a result, the collection has a special character that brings you close to the artist’s creative process,” explains Bo Nilsson, museum director at Artipelag.

Since this is the first time Kiefer has had a major solo exhibition in Sweden, Artipelag has chosen to make this a retrospective exhibition that highlights the artist’s multifaceted practice from the 1970s onwards. The exhibition covers the period until 2016, when Kiefer created a set of vitrines called Opus Magnum. This was the last work acquired by Hans Grothe before his death in 2019.

“We feel justified in describing this exhibition as ‘magnificent’, as it will be our largest exhibition in terms of space. But most importantly, it’s Kiefer’s artistry and choice of subjects that are fascinating; he moves in both the present and the past, and for a long time he has set the tone on the global art scene, and he moves between a multitude of expressions and references.”

The Grothe Collection has its permanent home in Kunsthalle Mannheim and Musée Franz Marc in Kochel am See, but the collection is administered by the Foundation for Art and Culture, which is based in Bonn. It is the Foundation’s chairman, Dr Walter Smerling, with extensive experience of Kiefer exhibitions on his track record, who has curated this exhibition in collaboration with Artipelag.

Artipelag is publishing a richly illustrated catalogue designed by Patrick Waters for the exhibition. It presents all the works, as well as essays by artist and potter Edmund de Waal, music critic Camilla Lundberg and literature scientist Markus Huss. Dr Walter Smerling contributes a portrait of collector Hans Grothe, and Bo Nilsson provides a background to the exhibition and its creation. There will also be a number of seminars, as well as a series of concerts arranged by classic guitarist Jacob Kellermann.

In addition to the show at Artipelag, Anselm Kiefer also has a current exhibition at Palazzo Ducale in Venice until October 29, 2022. Furthermore, the artist’s 40-hectare studio-estate, La Ribaute, in Barjac, France, which served as his primary atelier until 2007, will soon be open to the public.

Essence-Eksistence runs until 8 January 2023 in Artipelag’s exhibition hall and Artbox, and comprises some fifty works.