Anselm Kiefer: Notebooks. Volume 1: 1998 – 1999

translated by Tess Lewis

“For a long time, it was not clear if I would become a writer or an artist”, says Anselm Kiefer, whose paintings and sculptures have made him one of the most significant and influential artists of our time. Since he was awarded the Peace Prize by the German Book Trade in 2008, his essays, speeches and lectures have gradually received more attention but his diary accounts have been almost completely unknown.  The power in Kiefer’s images, however, is rivalled by his writings on nature and history, literature and antiquity, mysticism and mythology.
In this first volume of Notebooks, Kiefer returns constantly to his touchstones: sixteenth-century alchemist Robert Fludd, German romantic poet Novalis, Martin Heidegger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Robert Musil, among others. The entries reveal the process by which his artworks are informed by his reading – and vice versa – and track the development of the works he created in the late 1990s. Translated into English for the first time by Tess Lewis, they reveal Kiefer’s strong affinity for language and let readers witness the process of thoughts, experiences and adventures slowly transcending the limits of art, achieving meaning in and beyond their medium.
German original published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, under the title Notizbücher, Band 1, 1998-1999 in 2011.