Anselm Kiefer (German, born 1945)
Watercolor, gouache, and graphite pencil on paper
16 7/8 x 14 in. (42.9 x 35.6 cm)
Denise and Andrew Saul Fund, 1995 (1995.14.5)
As with another work from the same period that depicts a frozen, barren landscape (see Everyone Stands Under His Own Dome of Heaven, 1995.14.4), Kiefer experiments here with landscape to generate layers of meaning. Contemplation of wild or "sublime" landscapes was a trope of Romantic-era picture-making, particularly in Germany, but the earth depicted here has been roughly plowed and blanketed with snow, and the spare trees in the background lend a bleakness to the work. A disembodied female head rises above the field, bleeding from the neck, and spots of blood-red watercolor tinge the pale ground. Kiefer perhaps had in mind mythological personifications of nature—Daphne, for example, who was metamorphosed into a laurel tree by her father to escape the attentions of Apollo. Yet this depiction of a ruined terrain, spotted with blood, is difficult to separate from evocations of the scarring wounds of World War II.