Anselm Kiefer: Beyond Landscape explored the interplay of history, identity, and landscape in the work of one of the most important artists of our time. Several major works by Anslem Kiefer (German, born 1945) formed the core of the exhibition. These included the Albright-Knox’s newly acquired der Morgenthau Plan (The Morgenthau Plan), 2012, a monumental panorama inundated with wildflowers that proliferate in the landscape surrounding the artist’s studio complex in Barjac, France; die Milchstrasse (The Milky Way), 1985–87, an iconic depiction of a desolate, barren field; and Von der Maas bis an die Memel, von der Etsch bis an den Belt (From the Maas to the Memel, from the Etsch to the Belt), 2011–12, a seascape of epic proportions on loan to the museum. These works, in their layered and complex iconographies, exemplified the artist’s career-long explorations of nationalism, identity, and cultural memory. As an ensemble, they invoked the politics of landscape—the precarious relationship between nature, history, and aesthetics.
Complementing Kiefer’s works was an installation of paintings and works on paper from the Albright-Knox’s collection that likewise featured landscape as a means of exploring a multiplicity of subjects and significations. The works in this section of the exhibition, by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Jean-Marc Bustamante, Sandra Cinto, Gustave Courbet, Willie Doherty, George Inness, Emil Nolde, Sophie Ristelhueber, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Vincent van Gogh, and others, provided a context for exploring two salient themes in Kiefer’s practice that also reflect the modern landscape tradition: The Romantic's Landscape and The Political Landscape.
The museum invited the community to play an important role in the exhibition by participating in a dual forum for expression and exchange that will result in an accompanying book scheduled for publication in 2014. Content for the book was developed in two ways: online, the Beyond Landscape blog offered audiences a means of sharing observations, questions, and ruminations in text, image, video, and audio formats. Within the exhibition, a room dedicated to further learning, contemplation, and expression is equipped with reading materials, drawing and writing supplies, and computers provided visitors with immediate access to the Beyond Landscape blog as well as video and audio content about the artist and his subject matter. Albright-Knox staff members reviewed on-site and online responses and continued to share selected submissions on the blog throughout the run of the exhibition. All submissions through February 14, 2014, were be considered for possible inclusion in the book.
This exhibition was conceived and initiated by Director Janne Sirén and organized by Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon and Curator for the Collection Holly E. Hughes.