But that is exactly what makes them so powerful. I've never been more moved by seeing a work in person than I am when I see Kiefer's. They floor me. As I said in my other post on Kiefer, it certainly has to do, in part, with the fact that his work isn't picture perfect. And it also has to do with his subject matter, which stirs up deeply conflicted ideas about the artist's German heritage, metaphysics, and alchemy that really make me feel something. Here are a few ways he does it:
Texture: When I look at Kiefer's surfaces, I want to run my hands along them. That is how visceral the tactile sensations are for me. The paintings are pitted, torn, scored, and yet there is a tempo and rhythm to them that the Impressionists would enviously covet for their landscape paintings.
|Jerusalem by Anselm Kiefer, mixed media painting.|
Horizon lines: Kiefer is amazing at emoting different feelings in his work, and it often starts with something as simple as the position of the horizon line. Sometimes he puts it high, so the vastness of the landscape seems to topple over on you. Sometimes it is low so the sky's vastness blocks out everything else. And sometimes it is directly in the middle, creating a mirror-like effect of earth and sky.
|The Milky Way by Anselm Kiefer, mixed media painting.|
Repetition or one of a kind: I've noticed that Kiefer will often incorporate motifs one of two ways: showcasing one image or object in a work that really stands out, or reintroducing the image, object, or material several times for a more integrated effect. Either way, there is something noteworthy attracting your eye to the work, but he plays with how that attraction comes about.
|Lot's Wife by Anselm Kiefer, mixed media painting.|
In landscape painting, attracting the eye is about many principles, including those that Kiefer uses, and some that he doesn't. In our Step-by-Step Landscape Painting Instruction eBook, we go from skies and foregrounds to the distant horizons of a sea- or landscape. There's info on using photographs and how to transform a plein-air sketch into a studio painting. It is all there, so enjoy!