Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Essence/Ex-sistence

Artist:
Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
Date:
1975
Medium:
Watercolor and gouache on paper
Dimensions:
11 7/8 x 15 3/4 in. (30.2 x 40 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Barnett Newman Foundation Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.14.17
Not on view
In German, the words Essenz and Eksistenz immediately summon the theories of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) as developed in his landmark treatise Sein und Zeit (Being and Time, 1927). Heidegger coined the hyphenated Ek-sistenz to play on the German word Ecke (corner, or, more abstractly, a specific place), suggesting the isolated position of each human being in the world. The mountains in both drawings, rendered in relief (as in another watercolor from 1975, Wild Emperor) and in profile, are emblazoned with Heidegger's neologism. Kiefer was also fascinated by Heidegger's ambiguous relationship to National Socialism. The philosopher had been forbidden to teach for many years after World War II because of his ties to the Nazis yet still became an important influence for many postwar Jewish intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) and Jacques Derrida (1930-2004).
Inscription: Inscribed (upper right, in watercolor): Ek-sistenz; (lower center, in blue watercolor): Essenz; (lower left): für Julia
private collection (1975–83; sold in 1983 to d'Offay); [Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1983–95; sold to MMA]

London. Anthony d'Offay Gallery. "Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours, 1970–1982," May 24–July 9, 1983, no. 12 (as "Essenz–Ek–sistenz").

Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. "Anselm Kiefer," March 24–May 5, 1984, no. 110 (as "Essenz–Ek–sistenz").

ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Anselm Kiefer," May 11–June 21, 1984, no. 110.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. "Anselm Kiefer," July 31–September 30, 1984, no. 110.

Sezon Museum of Modern Art. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," June 3–July 19, 1993, no. W–12 (as "Essenz–Ek–sistenz").

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," August 3–September 5, 1993, no. W–12.

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," September 18–October 24, 1993, no. W–12.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 15, 1998–March 21, 1999, no. 21.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes by Klee and Kiefer," January 19–September 30, 2001, no catalogue.

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. "Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth," September 25, 2005–January 8, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 68).

Washington, D. C. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution. "Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth," June 18–September 10, 2006, unnumbered cat.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth," October 5, 2006–January 14, 2007, unnumbered cat.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Broken Flowers and Grass: Nature and Landscape in the Drawings of Anselm Kiefer," March 24–August 2, 2009, no catalogue.

Duisburg. Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst. "Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer: Zeichnungen, Gouachen, Bücher," June 29–September 30, 2012, unnumbered cat. (p. 199; as "Essenz Ek sistenz, für Julia").

Anne Seymour. Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours 1970–1982. Exh. cat., Anthony d'Offay Gallery. London, 1983, unpaginated, no. 12, ill. (color).

Jürgen Harten in Anselm Kiefer. Exh. cat., Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Dusseldorf, 1984, pp. 146–47, 175, no. 110, fig. 104.

Nan Rosenthal in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1994–1995." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53 (Autumn 1995), p. 68.

Nan Rosenthal. Anselm Kiefer: Works on Paper in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 52–54, no. 21, ill. (color).

Daniel Arasse. Anselm Kiefer. 2nd ed. [1st ed., 2010]. London, 2014, ill. p. 213 (color).



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