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Anselm Kiefer at the Aldrich


A painting from Keifer’s “Velimir Chlebnikov” show

The feature exhibit at the Aldrich this summer is Anselm Kiefer‘s “Velimir Chlebnikov,” an homage to the Russian poet and thinker of the same name. Besides being a writer, Chlebnikov wrote complex mathematical formulae which apparently prove the existence of naval battles recurring every 317 years. Evidence of these equations grace the paintings, along with small ships made of scrap metal and, on some of the paintings that allude to Aphrodite and other figures from Greek mythology, dried sunflowers. The paintings not only represent naval battles and the sea, but also the more general themes of love and war.

I found the exhibit a little overwhelming at first, because of the size of the building and the close, grid-like pattern of the paintings. However, the space soon proved to have a calming effect on me – a respite from the heat and humidity outside. I felt especially attached to the paintings that allude to the Greek mythological figure Leander, who swam each night across the water to visit his lover Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite.


The metal pavillion that houses the exhibit

The paintings are housed in a metal pavillion that Kiefer himself designed, a structure that lends to the cool, stormy feel of the exhibit. Each painting is standard in size and of a similar color palette: the gray, ochre, and slate blue that is so remniscient of the sea. The exhibit is very personal, as Kiefer had a hand in every part of its installation process – from the design and building of the pavillion, the paintings themselves, and a handscrawled quote on the back wall that reads (translated from German): “Time, Measure of the World – Fate of the people. The New Doctrine of War: Naval Battles Recur Every 317 Years or in Multiples Thereof, for Velimir Chlebnikov.”

To read more about the Aldrich and the Kiefer exhibit click here . Also, I have some more pictures up on my flickr site here.

–Caitlin is Artblog’s intern