Kiefer based this watercolor on a photograph of refugees in a picture book dating from World War II. It was an unusual subject for him, as his interest was not so much in the subject per se as in the image— a mass of people. The title, a Latin term meaning "fear of empty space," is inscribed in gouache within the form of a palette. In this and a number of small drawings, the artist painted dots and drips like snow ("another kind of horror vacui," according to Kiefer) across the surface, much like an Abstract Expressionist allover composition. The image demonstrates the artist’s black humor, connecting wartime hardship, natural phenomena, and art.
Inscription: Titled (in gouache, across center): horror vacui
private collection (1980–83; sold in 1983 to d'Offay); [Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London, 1983–95; sold to MMA]