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Brünnhilde Sleeps

Artist:
Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
Date:
1980
Medium:
Acrylic and gouache on photograph
Dimensions:
23 x 32 7/8in. (58.4 x 83.5cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.14.30
Not on view
Near the end of Wagner's second opera of the Ring Cycle, Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, having attempted to help the sibling lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde against their father's wishes, is punished for her betrayal. Wotan puts her to sleep and surrounds her with a ring of fire (she will be awakened in turn by her nephew Siegfried, the incestuous son of Siegmund and Sieglinde, in the third opera of the cycle).
Kiefer portrays the dormant Brünnhilde as French actress Catherine Deneuve in François Truffaut's film Mississippi Mermaid, using a photograph he snapped in a movie house in 1969. In the film, Deneuve plays a deceitful mail-order bride who comes to the island of Réunion to marry a plantation owner, played by Jean-Paul Belmondo. Aside from the parallels of love and betrayal in both the Ring Cycle and Truffaut's film, Kiefer thought the choice of Deneuve for Brünnhilde both ironic and amusing: she was for him "the contrary of Brünnhilde. Very slim, very French, very cool, very sexy," hinting that no man would go through fire to obtain Wagner's corpulent, armored Valkyrie.
Inscription: Inscribed (center right): Brünhilde/ schläft
private collection (from 1980; sold to d'Offay); [Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, until 1995; sold to MMA]

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. 33.

New York. Arnold and Marie Schwartz Gallery at the Metropolitan Opera. "From the Met to the Met: Anselm Kiefer and Wagner's Ring," February 17–May 9, 2009, unnum. brochure.

Paris. Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Galerie I. "Anselm Kiefer," December 16, 2015–April 18, 2016, unnumbered cat. (pp. 118-19).

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. 76–77, no. 33, ill. p. 78 (color).



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