"I think in pictures. Poems help me with this. They are like buoys in the sea. I swim to them, from one to the other. In between, without them, I am lost. They are the handholds where something masses together in the infinite expanse."--Anselm Kiefer
The only visual artist to have won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Anselm Kiefer is a profoundly literary painter. In the ten conversations with the writer and theologian Klaus Dermutz collected here, Kiefer returns to the essential elements of his art, his aesthetics, and his creative processes.
Kiefer describes how the central materials of his art--lead, sand, water, fire, ashes, plants, clothing, oil paint, watercolor, and ink--influence the act of creation. No less decisive are his intellectual and artistic touchstones: the sixteenth-century Jewish mystic Isaac Luria, the German Romantic poet Novalis, Ingeborg Bachmann, Paul Celan, Martin Heidegger, Marcel Proust, Adalbert Stifter, the operas of Richard Wagner, the Catholic liturgy, and the innovative theater director and artist Tadeusz Kantor. Kiefer and Dermutz discuss all of these influential thinkers, as well as Kiefer's own status as a controversial figure. His relentless examination of German history, the themes of guilt, suffering, communal memory, and the seductions of destruction have earned him equal amounts of criticism and praise. The conversations in this book offer a rare insight into the mind of a gifted creator, appealing to artists, critics, art historians, cultural journalists, and anyone interested in the visual arts and the literature and history of the twentieth century.