This vibrant landscape takes its title from—and is inscribed with—the name of a controversial proposal for post–World War II Germany that was conceived by US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. The Morgenthau Plan, as it became known, called for the complete deindustrialization of Germany and its return to an agricultural economy, which some estimated would result in the deaths of tens of millions of Germans. Through reference to the Morgenthau Plan, Anselm Kiefer here commingles the beauty of nature—specifically, a photograph of the landscape near his studio in Barjac, France—with the darker, ominous implications of a political program. The work suggests that land is never just a landscape. It is, rather, a composite of human history—of the aspirations, beliefs, actions, and events that have taken place there. Not simply natural, the landscape is a construction, constantly in flux as history unfolds.
Label from We the People: New Art from the Collection, October 23, 2018–July 21, 2019