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Burning Rods

Anselm Kiefer, German, born 1945
Oil, acrylic emulsion, and shellac on canvas with lead, copper wire, straw, iron, and ceramic
Current Location
On View, Gallery 251
130 1/4 in. x 18 ft. 3 in. (330.8 x 556.3 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer Jr. by exchange
© Anselm Kiefer
Object Number
To create this vast, charred landscape, Anselm Kiefer combined paint with the unlikely materials of lead, copper, and straw. Blackened furrows extend toward a distant horizon while a rusted ice skate and a porcelain shard, both placed in the foreground, emphasize the surface of the painting. In this ravaged vista, Kiefer merges ancient mythology with the realities of modern technology. The 14 vertical rods at the center of the composition allude to the Egyptian myth of Osiris, a god who was torn into 14 pieces before being reassembled by his sister-wife, Isis. “Burning Rods” also refers to fuel rods used in nuclear power plants, such as the one at Chernobyl that catastrophically failed in 1986. The monumental size and imposing physical bulk of this work are matched by Kiefer’s ambition to address the profound issues of death, destruction, and renewal that continually confront humanity.
Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, NY, USA

1987 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Marian Goodman Gallery [1]

[1] Invoice from Marian Goodman Gallery dated May 16, 1987 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions and Loans Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, May 16, 1987.
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