Anselm Kiefer’s Fahrt Durchs Land series is part of the artist’s ever-evolving practice of reworking imagery using his signature mix of acrylic, sand, burlap and photographic imagery to ultimately produce a unique book. As part of Kiefer’s overall practice, Fahrt Durchs Land IV: Die Weichsel speaks to his landscapes which are often direct configurations of post-Nazi “scorched earth” Germany.
Fahrt Durchs Land IV: Die Weichsel specifically focuses its imagery around the depiction of a river. In the artist’s typical fractured logic, the river is shown several times through multiple media: a photographic image and through his own hand-drawn flowing water. The work is dispersed with an abandoned railroad and a rocky riverbed. The other images are wrought with frenzied black strokes across several ominous horizons. Art historian Daniel Arasse has commented, “these ‘landscapes’ go against the whole great tradition of German landscape painting–a tradition that the Nazis appropriated and tried to make into the embodiment of the ‘German vision,’ the ‘self-portrait of the German soul’ and the ‘organic extension of its genius” (D. Arasse, “Acts of Mourning,” in Anselm Kiefer, New York, 2001, p. 121). As resonates in the present work, Kiefer’s view of the great German tradition implicates denial as a source of inspiration and anguish.
Kiefer’s work purports to be a travelogue through the country. Fahrt Durchs Land IV: Die Weichsel shows how, despite the ever-changing scenery, the artist’s conceptions remain aligned to solid meditation on and the mourning of Germany’s complex post-war heritage.