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Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
ANSELM KIEFER (B. 1945)

FOR ROBERT FLUDD THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS

Details
ANSELM KIEFER (B. 1945)
FOR ROBERT FLUDD THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS
TITLED 'FOR ROBERT FLUDD THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS' (UPPER LEFT)
OIL, ACRYLIC, CHARCOAL, WIRE AND PLASTER COATED BRANCHES ON LEAD LAID DOWN ON CANVAS
77 X 133¼ X 16½ IN. (195.8 X 338 X 41.9 CM.)
EXECUTED IN 2001
Provenance
ANTHONY D'OFFAY GALLERY, LONDON.
WHITE CUBE, LONDON.
ACQUIRED FROM THE ABOVE BY THE PRESENT OWNER IN 2007.
Exhibited
LONDON, ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS, SUMMER EXHIBITION, 2001, NO. 6.
BILBAO, GUGGENHEIM, ANSELM KIEFER, 2007.
LONDON, VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM, BLOOD ON PAPER: THE ART OF THE BOOK, 2008.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Charles Wesley-Hourde
Charles Wesley-Hourde African Art

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Lot Essay

COMPRISING OF A WHITE PLASTER-COATED BRANCH LAID OUT HORIZONTALLY AGAINST A VAST, MOTTLED AND STAINED LEAD-PLATE BACKGROUND SPLATTERED WITH ACRYLIC PAINT AND CHARCOAL TO FORM A DAZZLINGLY RICH SURFACE EVOCATIVE OF A DENSE CONSTELLATION OF STARS, FOR ROBERT FLUDD, THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS IS A UNIQUE AND POWERFUL WORK, EXPRESSIVE OF THE MYSTICAL UNION BETWEEN THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH. ONE OF A LONG SERIES OF WORKS GIVEN THIS TITLE BY ANSELM KIEFER, THIS LARGE THREE-AND-A-HALF METRE LONG PAINTING IS A SINGULAR EXAMPLE MADE IN THE SUMMER OF 2001 FOR THE ROYAL ACADEMY IN LONDON'S SUMMER SHOW THAT YEAR. IN 2001 THE ROYAL ACADEMY HAD DEDICATED A GALLERY TO THE WORK OF HONORARY ACADEMICIANS KIEFER, CY TWOMBLY AND ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG WHOSE WORK WAS EXHIBITED THERE ALONGSIDE THAT OF GEORG BASELITZ, ANTONI TàPIES, MIMMO PALADINO AND A MEMORIAL GROUP OF PAINTINGS TO COMMEMORATE BALTHUS WHO HAD DIED EARLIER IN THE YEAR.

IN 2001, KIEFER HAD RETURNED AGAIN TO THE THEMES OF SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ALCHEMIST AND MYSTIC PHILOSOPHER ROBERT FLUDD AND THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS, WHICH HE HAD EARLIER EXPLORED IN TWO SERIES OF WORKS OF THE LATE 1990S. EXPRESSIVE OF HIDDEN MYSTICAL LINKS BETWEEN PLANTS AND THE COSMOS - AN IDEA FIRST POSTULATED IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY BY ROBERT FLUDD AND LATER REITERATED IN 1973 BY PETER TOMPKINS AND CHRISTOPHER BIRD IN THEIR BOOK ENTITLED THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS - KIEFER SOUGHT ONCE AGAIN TO CONVEY THROUGH HIS PAINTING, A SENSE OF THE COSMICALLY INTERCONNECTED NATURE OF ALL PHENOMENA. IN THEIR 1973 BOOK ON THE SUBJECT, TOMKINS AND BIRD HAD EXPLORED THE SENTIENT NATURE OF PLANTS AND ARGUED THAT BECAUSE THEIR CELLS ARE CONNECTED AND RESPONSIVE TO THE COSMOS THEY ARE THEREFORE PERHAPS MORE ABLE TO PROVIDE ANSWERS ABOUT THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE THAN THE EMPIRICISM OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. THIS SENTIMENT IS ONE THAT ECHOES THE FAMOUS PROPOSITION OF ROBERT FLUDD WHO, DRAWING ON THE BASIC HERMETIC PRINCIPLE THAT THE MICROCOSM IS A MIRROR OF THE MACROCOSM ('AS ABOVE SO BELOW') FAMOUSLY PRONOUNCED THAT EVERY PLANT ON THE EARTH HAS ITS EQUIVALENT STAR IN HEAVEN.

MUCH OF KIEFER'S ART SINCE THE 1980S HAS INVOKED THIS SAME IDEAL OF HEAVEN AND EARTH BEING MYSTIC REFLECTIONS OF ONE ANOTHER - MIRROR-LIKE OPPOSITES THAT ARE ULTIMATELY UNITED IN THE INDIVIDUAL OR VIEWER. THE SUNFLOWER, IN PARTICULAR, FOR EXAMPLE, WITH ITS BLACK DOME-LIKE HEAD FULL OF SEEDS, IS FOR KIEFER A LIVING EMBODIMENT OF FLUDD'S PROPOSITION OF FLOWERS BEING LIKE STARS, AND SOMETHING HE CELEBRATED IN NUMEROUS PAINTINGS USING SUNFLOWERS AND THEIR SEEDS IN THE LATE 1990S. IN THIS WORK, ENTITLED THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS AND DEDICATED TO FLUDD, A WHITE BRANCH OF A TREE HAS BEEN EMPLOYED TO LOOK LIKE BOTH AN EARTHLY ROOT AND A HEAVENLY LIGHTNING BOLT SEEMINGLY CONNECTING A SKY FULL OF A MYRIAD OF STARS - SOME OF WHICH KIEFER HAS CLASSIFIED BY THEIR NUMBERS, OTHERS BY THEIR LATIN AND ARABIC NAMES. STREAKING ACROSS KIEFER'S PAINTERLY RENDITION OF THE NIGHT SKY, THE WHITE BRANCH BOTH INVIGORATES AND FORMS PART OF A CAREFULLY CHARTED CONSTELLATION. INTERCONNECTED IN SOME PARTS BY WHITE PAINTED WIRES TO FORM A GRAPHIC CHART, THE CONSTELLATION KIEFER HAS CHOSEN TO DEPICT IS THAT OF LEO - THE CONSTELLATION VISIBLE IN THE NIGHT SKY DURING MUCH OF THE MONTHS OF JULY AND AUGUST.

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