Anselm Kiefer's Alchemy

Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia), 1982-2013, collage of woodcut on canvas
Anselm Kiefer, The Rhine (Melancholia), 1982-2013, collage of woodcut on canvas with acrylic and shellac, 374 x 330 cm (Private collection)

Martin Gayford writes about the work of Anselm Kiefer on view at the Royal Academy, London, through December 14, 2014.

Gayford notes: "In alchemy, lead was to be transmuted into gold, and Kiefer is intensely interested in alchemy – he admires the writings of the Jacobean English astrologer, cosmologist, cabbalist and alchemist Robert Fludd (1574-1637). His work, especially in the last two decades, has been fed by deep interests in many esoteric traditions, such as the Jewish Cabbala and ancient Egyptian religion... one can feel as if one is drowning in references and allusions when one reads about Kiefer’s work. But – this is a crucial point – it is not necessary to decode all those layers of meaning in order to appreciate his art. They are all compressed into a visual experience; you can just look, and sense the complexities."