Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945. This work was made in 1989.
This artist’s work stands as a warning about human evil and the necessity to take action against it.
Because, as the poet says, the world is burning.
The plane: a lithe and beautiful construction, made here not of aluminum but of lead. And cannot be of practical use.
The books: riches and poisons also.
The poppy has its double symbolism: one looks back and remembers particularly the sacrifice of lives given for the freedom from Fascism and totalitarian government.
The other provides the death-bearing forgetting induced by opiates to those who prefer a different past, present and future.
The fog has descended again. And in that fog, fighters continue the best they can to fight for their causes. The bread and circuses routine continue on a massive scale.
And when the fog does lift, the sun will be there.
There will be arguments in some parts of the world on whether the arc of the moral universe has or has not bent a little more towards justice. Others will be too deep into the bread and circuses to participate.
Angel of History, 1989, lead, glass and poppies. Anselm Kiefer, born 1945, German. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
The sun will be there.
In due course, the arc will pursue its circular course: the fog will come down again and the angel of history and its aircraft will be grounded again and poppies will begin growing over it again while we await the sun and new writing in new books.
Then the sun will come out again.
A watery sun after a wet fog: my favourite sun, which arrives from the heavens streaming with the sumptuous colors of the earth and its life-sustaining atmosphere.
Rain Light, M.S Merwin, born 1937, American. From The Shadow of Sirius, 2009
All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning.
Abstract Painting 7801-, oil on canvas, 1992. Gerhard Richter, born 1931, German. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
On we go through the burning world.