Nigredo, Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer, German, born 1945
Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, and straw on photograph and woodcut, mounted on canvas 10 feet 10 inches x 18 feet 2 1/2 inches (330.2 x 555 cm)
© Anselm Kiefer, courtesy Gagosian Gallery
Currently not on view 1985-5-1
Gift of the Friends of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in celebration of their twentieth anniversary, 1985

Huge expansive landscapes are a central motif in the art of Anselm Kiefer, born in Germany in 1945, the year World War II ended. Kiefer's landscapes bear witness to centuries of conflict and devastation on German soil. The word nigredo, written in the upper-left corner, refers to alchemy, the medieval "science" that sought to transform earth into gold through a process of burning. Nigredo, the first stage of transformation, is characterized by blackening, followed by the emergence of a glowing light.
Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections