Anselm Kiefer: Beneath The Crumbling Pillars Of The Divine – Paul Black




Artlyst has recently visited Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, to walk among the monumental towers of one of Anselm Kiefer’s most iconic of works, The Seven Heavenly Palaces. The installation, curated by the former director of Tate Modern, Vicente Todolí, is a permanent work conceived for the opening of Pirelli HangarBicocca in 2004, and based on a project by Lia Rumma.

Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca

Image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018 Photo: P A Black © 2018.

The work consists of seven ‘towers’ and five large-format paintings; Jaipur (2009); two works of the series entitled Cette obscure clarté qui tombe des étoiles (2011); Alchemie (2012), and Die deutsche Heilslinie, (2012-2013). The five large paintings are on display in the ‘Navate’ among the artist’s looming towers, as part of Kiefer’s vast installation.

Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca

Image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018 Photo: P A Black © 2018.

Kiefer designed the seven monumental towers to symbolize the ascent through the seven levels of spirituality. The towers – which have been given the titles Falling Stars, Deposit of Stars/Sternenlager, Die Sefiroth, Tzim-Tzum, Shevirat Ha-Kelim, Tiqqun and The Seven Heavenly Palaces – are built from reinforced concrete and lead – and utilise the repeated form of a shipping container – a ‘universal section’ as a ‘modular measure’ symbolizing the globalisation of our urban landscape.

Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca

Image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018 Photo: P A Black © 2018.

These towers of dilapidated majesty reference great architectural constructions from history – palaces described in the Hebrew Book of Palaces/Sanctuaries, dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. – viewed by the artist as an attempt by man to ascend to the divine, taking the viewer on a metaphysical journey among Kiefer’s spiritual monuments – with each tower representing a different level.

The towers appear precarious – between 14 and 18 metres in height, each weighing 90 tonnes; the works are interlaced with books, wedges and other materials, and stacked and balanced on layers of lead – as they climb perilously upward toward the great Hangar ceiling.
Image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018 Photo: P A Black © 2018.

“Ruins are a beginning. They are not some sort of ‘level zero.’ The towers in Pirelli HangarBicocca seem to have collapsed in on themselves, but their precarious situation, their nullity as well as our nullity makes us believe in our individuality, which is the site at which the particular and the universal continually unite.”—Anselm Kiefer.

Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca
Image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018 Photo: P A Black © 2018.

Simply known as ‘Kiefer’s Towers’, the works present familiar Kieferian themes; the ruins of post-World War II western civilisation, and the contemplation of a particular history; traversing philosophy and poetry, the alchemical, and even the ‘spirit of materials’. Here the viewer can literally walk around the artist’s mysterious cosmology, in awe of its crumbling pillars.

Words: Paul Black @Artjourno, photos: P A Black © 2018

Article © Artlyst 2018

Lead image: Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015, installation, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2018. Photo: P A Black © 2018

Anselm Kiefer, The Seven Heavenly Palaces, 2004-2015 – Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan – On Permanent Display

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