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Anselm Kiefer (German, b. 1945)
Midgard, 1982–85
Oil and mixed-media on canvas
110 × 149 in. (279.4 × 378.46 cm)
Gift of Friends of Art M1987.1
Photo credit: Dedra Walls
© Anselm Kiefer
Currently on View

Using symbolically potent materials such as clay, lead, ash, and gold leaf to masterful effect, Anselm Kiefer embraces a complex array of subjects, including alchemy, mythology, and Jewish mysticism. In 1980, Kiefer began producing monumental Neo-Expressionist paintings that explore German history and identity. He used metaphors of trauma experienced by entire societies, and the continual rebirth and renewal in life, such as we see in Midgard. This piece is one of a series of paintings that include the Norse legend of the serpent Midgard, who is fated to battle at the end of the world. Borrowing the Norse image of Midgard directly, Kiefer employed a painted collaged element to depict the snake encircling a rocklike earth. The burned and scarred setting, typical of Kiefer's works, includes the suggestion of a colonnade, perhaps a reference to the Roman occupation of Germany.

Publication History
Andera, Margaret, Nonie Gadsden, Britt Salvesen, and Laurie Winters. Collection Guide: Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum, 2004, pp. 44 and 71, cat. 70, color illus. p. 44.

Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 168, color illus.

Beeren, W.A.L. Anselm Kiefer, bilder 1986-1980. Amsterdam: Het Museum, 1987, color pl. 20.

Rosenthal, Mark. Anselm Kiefer. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago and Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, distributed by Neues Publishing Company, 1987.
Exhibition History
Art Since 1970 from the Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Art Center, May 29–August 21, 1988.

Art of the Eighties: Selections from the Permanent Collection, 333 Wacker Drive, Chicago, January 21–March 18, 1988.

This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.