Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Horror Vacui

Artist:
Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
Date:
1980
Medium:
Watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and graphite on paper
Dimensions:
16 1/2 x 22 in. (41.9 x 55.9 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.14.26
Rights and Reproduction:
© Anselm Kiefer
Not on view
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]

Kunstverein Freiburg. "Anselm Kiefer: Aquarelle 1970–1980," September 18–October 18, 1981, unnumbered cat.

London. Anthony d'Offay Gallery. "Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours, 1970–1982," May 24–July 9, 1983, no. 20.

Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. "Anselm Kiefer," March 24–May 5, 1984, no. 131 (dates it 1979).

ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Anselm Kiefer," May 11–June 21, 1984, no. 131.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. "Anselm Kiefer," July 31–September 30, 1984, no. 131.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Anselm Kiefer," December 5, 1987–January 31, 1988, unnumbered cat. (colorpl. 27; lent by a private collection).

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Anselm Kiefer," March 6–May 1, 1988, unnumbered cat.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. "Anselm Kiefer," June 14–September 11, 1988, unnumbered cat.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Anselm Kiefer," October 17, 1988–January 3, 1989, unnumbered cat.

Sezon Museum of Modern Art. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," June 3–July 19, 1993, no. W–15 (dated 1979).

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," August 3–September 5, 1993, no. W–15.

Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art. "Anselm Kiefer–Melancholia," September 18–October 24, 1993, no. W-15.

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. 35.

R. H. Fuchs. Anselm Kiefer: Aquarelle 1970–1980. Exh. cat., Kunstverein Freiburg. Freiburg, 1981, unpaginated.

Anne Seymour. Anselm Kiefer: Watercolours 1970–1982. Exh. cat., Anthony d'Offay Gallery. London, 1983, unpaginated, no. 20, ill. (color).

Jürgen Harten in Anselm Kiefer. Exh. cat., Städtische Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. Dusseldorf, 1984, pp. 53, 176, no. 131, fig. 26.

Mark Rosenthal. Anselm Kiefer. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago and Philadelphia, 1987, colorpl. 27.

Mark Rosenthal, Akira Moriguchi, Sawako Ogiwara, Etsuko Sugiyama, Junsi Magara, and Takashi Suzuki in Anselm Kiefer: Melancholia. Exh. cat.Tokyo, 1993, p. 131.

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, p. 80, no. 35, ill. p. 81 (color).

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