Die Argonauts (Small)

A series of sculptures made by Anselm Kiefer for the Royal Academy of Arts. Please note that these are for collection only and every sculpture is unique so will vary slightly from the image shown.
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Dimensions 13 x 15.5cm
Fabric & material Lead
SKU 02082409

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Product story

Each individual sculpture is a singular handmade object that alludes to many of the key themes in Anselm Kiefer’s art. In these works, Kiefer characteristically combines the playful and the profound through the conjunction of materials and imagery with complex layers of historical and mythological references.

The aeroplane is an image associated with the history of World War II in many countries and for Kiefer himself is resonant with the destruction of buildings in the towns and villages that he witnessed as a child in the form of the ruins left behind. At model scale, on the one hand The Argonauts evoke simultaneously the horrors of war and the defeat of tyranny, and on the other, the absurdity of the contradiction between the weight of the material and the motif of flight.

Lead is a material fundamental to Kiefer’s artistic practice. His attention was drawn to its properties when he became aware of a system of pipes in his studio in Hornbach, Germany; their shape, changeable colour and malleability fascinated him. Kiefer has spoken of how lead is the material most like us, in that it is constantly in flux. He also considers it to be the only material that is able to take the weight of human history, often forming it into large lead book libraries. In his attempts to extract the spirit from the materials with which he works, Kiefer is also alluding to his interest in alchemy where base metals, such as lead, are transformed into gold.

The title of his series summons the classical Greek myth of the Argonauts, the crew of the ship Argo, the heroic sailors who accompanied Jason in his quest for the Golden Fleece of a magical ram. An epic story retold in different ways for over 3000 years (marking changes in geographical knowledge), Kiefer here evokes not a single story but the ongoing process of mythology, and speaks to his interest in the cyclical nature of time and history.