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   Nov 15

Osiris und Isis by Anselm Kiefer

Maybe it is my interest in the Egyptian mythology but of all the displays, the painting “Osiris und Isis” by Anselm Kiefer was which really bowled me over in SF-MOMA (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art). I just sat there and stared at it! Not only its size (which is physically imposing, measuring 150 inches by 220 inches) and the three dimensional effect, but there was something about the painting as though it was something real in front of me.. something that held immense sorrow and destruction.

Osiris und Isis by Anselm Kiefer @ SF-MOMA

Osiris und Isis by Anselm Kiefer @ SF-MOMA

Anselm Kiefer is a German Neo-Expressionist artist. Both a painter and a sculptor, his works incorporate materials such as ash, clay,straw, lead and shellac. He was born in the final months of the second world war in the age that Lauterwein describes as growing up “in a climate of simultaneous amnesia and guilt with no personal experience or memory of the Nazi regime”. Calling Kiefer a landscape painter would be a stretch and yet his powerful works are based in and of the land. Kiefer continually focused on German culture,history and mythology as his source of artistic inspiration. Nazi memory is ever present in his works.

In the epic Egyptian myth, Osiris’s brother Set kills him out of jealousy and scatters his body parts around the kingdom. Isis, both the sister and wife of Osiris, finds her husband’s remains and ultimately resurrects him. By both the title and method of the painting, Kiefer clearly refers to the trauma and destruction of Germany and the hope for reunification and purification.

Now, this painting by Kiefer is an oil and acrylic emulsion with additional three dimensional media. According to the SFO museum, “The parable’s theme of destruction and renewal speaks directly to Kiefer’s interest in reassembling and reclaiming elements of Germany’s history and identity at a time when so many of his compatriots seemed intent on forgetting. The painter illustrates humanity’s quest for heaven through an immense, stepped temple that dominates the scene. A television circuit board connects copper wires and shards of a porcelain plumbing fixture, which, scattered across the vast canvas, allude to Osiris’s strewn body parts. By conflating contemporary elements with a mythological story, Kiefer connects the modern and ancient worlds, forging a new, universal image of reunification and synthesis (with scars still intact).

[Source: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art“]

Descript for Osiris und Isis by Anselm Kiefer

Descript for Osiris und Isis by Anselm Kiefer


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