The oeuvre of German artist Anselm Kiefer is permeated with references to historical events and figures, philosophy and scientific theories. In his often very large canvases and monumental installations, it is not about a literal, historical ‘account’ of events, but about evoking the atmosphere and spirit of those events.

Two historical moments

In Piet Mondrian – Battle of Arminius, Kiefer connects two historical moments. The large, dark brown pine represents the Teutoburg Forest, where the Romans suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Germanic tribes in the year 9 AD. This victory is regarded and celebrated by German historians, poets and thinkers as the birth of the German nation.

Change and renewal

The black horizontal and vertical lines at the top of the painting refer to the black line segments in Mondrian’s Plus-Minus paintings from 1915-1917, the start of his abstract art. By referring to these two moments, the battle from the beginning of our era and the birth of abstraction, Kiefer reflects on change and renewal.