Your Golden Hair, Margarete

Artist: Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)

Date: 1980

Medium: Watercolor, gouache, and acrylic on paper

Dimensions: 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in. (40 x 29.8 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, in memory of her father, Joseph H. Hazen, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.96.7

Rights and Reproduction: © Anselm Kiefer


The title of this work comes from Death Fugue by the Romanian Jewish poet and World War II survivor Paul Celan (1920-1970). Widely read and anthologized in postwar Germany, Death Fugue is set in a concentration camp. Its narrative voice, in the first-person plural, is that of the Jewish inmates, who suffer under the camp's blue-eyed commandant. Singing "your golden hair, Margarete / your ashen hair, Shulamith," the narrators contrast German womanhood, as personified by Margarete, to whom the commandant addresses letters at night, and Jewish womanhood (Shulamith was King Solomon's dark-haired beloved in the Song of Songs). Here, as in most of Kiefer's more than thirty Margarete works, the German heroine is represented by only a symbol of her "golden hair"-sheaves of wheat in the countryside.