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Tel Aviv Museum of Art inaugurates new building with a major exhibition of works by Anselm Kiefer
Anselm Kiefer, West-Eastern Divan, 2010, 2 sets of 27 panels, oil, emulsion, acrylic, shellac, brambles, resin-coated ferns, lead, dried flowers, sunflowers, charcoal, chalk on canvas in metal and glass frames, each 190 x 140cm (75 x 55 in).

TEL AVIV.- An extraordinary selection of Anselm Kiefer’s monumental paintings, sculptures, woodcuts and installations on themes of Jewish history and mysticism, chosen predominantly from the artist’s own collection, are presented as the inaugural special exhibition in the new Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Opened to the public on November 2, 2011, in the building’s dramatic 9,000-square-foot gallery for special exhibitions, Shevirat Ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels) features five new sculptures from the artist’s Les femmes d'Antiquité (Women of Antiquity) series; five new monumental, mixed-media paintings; three more recent paintings from Kiefer’s own collection, and another two from private collections; three large new woodcuts, each measuring approximately 2 x 3 meters (6.5 x 9.8 feet); a version of the large-scale installation West-Eastern Divan; and a new installation, Shevirat Ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels), to be specially created by the artist on site.

Shevirat Ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels) has been organized by the late Professor Mordechai Omer, Director and Chief Curator, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in collaboration with Anselm Kiefer. The exhibition will remain on view through April 15, 2012 in the new 195,000-square-foot Herta and Paul Amir Building, designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen. A landmark addition to the main complex of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art—the leading museum of modern and contemporary art in Israel—the Amir Building provides large, well-proportioned galleries for temporary exhibitions and works from the permanent collection (principally Israeli art, architecture and design, prints and drawings, and photography) within a spectacular, continually unfolding public space.

“Anselm Kiefer is among the most important artists in the world today,” Mordechai Omer wrote, “one whose bold confrontations with the history and myths of his native Germany have been enriched by his profound engagement with the Hebrew Bible and Jewish traditions. It is an honor to collaborate with him in this unique exploration of his Jewish themes—an exhibition that can be experienced only here in our astonishing new building and that testifies to both the special character and the international scope of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.”

Among the subjects addressed in the works in Shevirat Ha-Kelim (Breaking of the Vessels) are the stories of biblical figures such as Cain and Abel, Noah and Samson; the Kabbalistic ideas of the “tree of Sephirot” (or emanations of God) and the shattering of a formerly unified world (shevirat ha-kelim, or Breaking of the Vessels); Isaac Abravanel, the 15th-century Biblical scholar and statesman who was forced from Spain in the expulsion of 1492; and Paul Celan, the Romanian-born, German-language Jewish poet who survived the Holocaust and was one of the first in the post-war era to write about these experiences.

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945 in Donaueschingen in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. From 1993, he lived and worked near the Cevennes (Gard) in Barjac, France; since 2007 he is based in Paris. After studying law, and Romance languages and literature, he devoted himself entirely to painting. He attended the School of Fine Arts at Freiburg in the Breisgau district and the Art Academy (Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste) in Karlsruhe (under Profs. Peter Dreher and Horst Antes), while maintaining contact with Joseph Beuys. His work has been shown in and collected by major museums throughout the world. Recent major exhibitions include a retrospective at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth (2005), traveling to the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and SF MOMA; an extensive survey of recent work at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2007); and the commission to create a huge, site-specific installation of sculptures and paintings for the inaugural Monumenta at the Grand Palais, Paris (2007). Also in 2007, Kiefer became the first living artist since Georges Braque (in 1953) to have a permanent installation at the Louvre. In 2009, he directed and designed the sets for Am Anfang (In the Beginning) at the Opéra National in Paris.

Kiefer’s connection with Jewish heritage and Israel was recognized in 1990 when he was awarded the prestigious Wolf Foundation Prize in the Arts. He used the entirety of the $100,000 prize money to establish the Ingeborg Bachmann Scholarship for young Israeli artists.

Anselm Kiefer lives and works in France.

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