Anselm Kiefer (German, born Donaueschingen, 1945)
ca. 1980
Gouache and acrylic on photograph
32 1/2 x 23 1/8 in. (82.6 x 58.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1995
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© Anselm Kiefer
Not on view
In one of the Old Norse poems in the Edda, the "Ballad of Gimnir" (Gimnir is also known as Odin, chief of the gods), the universe is described as an immense ash tree, Yggdrasil. Kiefer presented himself as this tree, reusing a self-portrait from 1969 in which he wears a crocheted dress and holds a branch (die Kiefer in German refers to a type of pine tree). On top of the image he added in acrylic and gouache the tree stump and various animals associated with Yggdrasil. Encompassing themes of transformation, growth and decay, and even human evolution—all present in Kiefer’s work—Yggdrasil is an apt subject for the artist’s self-identification.
Inscription: Titled (upper left): Yggdrasil; inscribed (center left): ODIN/ 4 Hirsche [4 deer]/ 1 Adler [1 eagle]/ 1 Pferd [1 horse]/ 1 Eichhörnchen [1 squirrel]/ 1 Drache [1 dragon]; inscribed (lower left in gouache): Nidhöggs; inscribed (diagonally lower right): WELT - Esche [world ash]
private collection (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. 42.

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, not in brochure.

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. 96, 98, 112, no. 42, ill. p. 97 (color).