The exhibition includes works by Anselm Kiefer now in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Collection. Kiefer is one of the leading exponents of German neo-Expressionism and this broad selection offers a very complete overview of the last fifteen years of his artistic career.
The works included are executed in a wide range of techniques (painting, sculpture, and photography) and materials, including lead laminas, straw, plaster, seeds, ashes and soil. Kiefer uses a virtually monochrome palette in many of the larger works, whose sheer size tends to underline the solemnity and transcendental nature of their content.
Works such as The Paths of World Wisdom: Hermann's Battle (Wege der Weltweisheit: die Hermannsschlacht, 1982–83) are concerned with what was, until 1991, the central motif of his oeuvre: the history of his devastated country. Kiefer dealt with this theme by creating a complicated system of images that incorporated elements taken from Nordic legend and myth, esoteric philosophy, the history of World War II and the poetry of Jewish Rumanian poet Paul Celan. His more recent work, represented in the collection by works such as Alone With Wind, Time and Sound (Nur mit Wind, mit Zeit und mit Klang, 1997), bear witness to a new creative phase in which Kiefer, freed from the burdens of history, has drastically renewed theme and reference. Unlike the previous phase, Kiefer's current concerns have led him from man's external history to his inner history, combining a genuinely spiritual search with an existential analysis of mankind.