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Kiefer’s expulsion of the rebel angels at Palazzo Strozzi

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Kiefer’s expulsion of the rebel angels at Palazzo Strozzi

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Anselm Kiefer had accustomed visitors well with his tendency towards monumentality, as demonstrated by the immense “Seven Heavenly Palaces”, permanently exhibited in Pirelli HangarBicocca. This time too, in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, he decided not to be outdone: his “Engelssturz” (“Fall of the Angel”) is a mammoth painting seven meters high, which tells of our entire history on a gold leaf background. too human humanity (to put it like Nietzsche).

The work illustrates the rebel angels expelled from Paradise by the archangel Michael who, holding the sword, points to the sky of divine will and reveals his name written in Hebrew at the top right. Manifesting the eternal struggle between good and evil, metaphysical and material, divine and human, “Engelssturz” acts as an exergue to the shining dialogue between ancient and modern that will be encountered in the halls of the palace.

Curated by Arturo Galansino, “Fallen Angels” is proof of the German artist’s mastery who, with the bold help of different and unusual techniques and materials (plaster, seeds, plants, metals, gold) creates an extraordinary potpourri that ranges from painting to classical philosophy to modern literature: “I work on many projects at the same time.

Anselm Kiefer at Palazzo Strozzi

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A garden where many plants grow together

The result is similar to a garden where many plants grow together.” Winking at the classical dead languages ​​with continuous references to Greek myths, the exhibition starts with “Luzifer”, in which an airplane wing emerges from the painting while Lucifer – a new Icarus – is falling due to excess of ubris, the Greek arrogance. The contrast between angelic wings and aerial ones goes from being images of freedom to an emblem of death for having dared to ignore danger and one’s limits. He renews his everlasting bond with nature in works such as “Sol Invictus”: the reference to solar cults that celebrate light over darkness can be seen from the golden backgrounds and the gigantic sunflowers, embodying the cyclical conception of time and life. The sunflower – often attributed to Van Gogh – is linked to the thoughts of Robert Fludd, an English alchemist who associated every plant with a star, a link between the earthly and the celestial. Noteworthy is the room dedicated to the great figures of ancient philosophers, with the three works “Von Sokrates”, which tells a pseudo family tree of the pre-Socratics (including Archimedes and Parmenides), “Ave Maria” with the heads of both pre-Socratic and post-Socratic thinkers ( Plato, Aristotle, Diogenes), while “The School of Athens” leads back to Raphael’s Vatican fresco. The heads of the great men of the past seem to emerge from the canvases thanks to the materiality of the elements used.

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The exhibition ends with Kiefer’s debut in 1969 in which – still a student at the Academy of Fine Arts – he had himself photographed wearing his father’s officer’s uniform and emulating the Nazi salute, in an attempt to normalize its horror. Kiefer’s intent was to challenge the twilight culture of the period: the verses of “Ed è Subito sera” by Salvatore Quasimodo were present in the room, symbol of a struggle for the fleeting nature of life and the succumbing to death. And this is how the tragedies of history are immeasurably linked to the existentialism of human beings, still fragile fallen angels.

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