b. 1945, Donaueschingen (Germany)
The German painter and sculptor first studied art in Freiburg and Karlsruhe, then in Düsseldorf under Joseph Beuys. Until the 1990s, his work was preoccupied above all with German history, both in terms of figures and events from legend and mythology, and of the recent past. Kiefer addresses his themes in vast pictorial formats, employing a wide variety of materials and techniques inspired by Art Informel. Besides the expressive use of paint applied in thick layers, he also works on the surface with an axe and a blowtorch, collaging in objects and materials, photographs and inscriptions which infuse the pictures with formal associations and connotations. Through this intense cumulative process he also lends thematic emphasis to the activity of painting, tying it closely to the content of the picture. In the late 1980s, Kiefer’s work became more sculptural, using lead as his principal material to reflect on questions of human civilization, its catastrophes and longing for atonement.