Anselm Kiefer

German, born 1945

Die Milchstrasse (The Milky Way)

© Anselm Kiefer

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

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© Anselm Kiefer

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Anselm Kiefer

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Anselm Kiefer

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Anselm Kiefer

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Die Milchstrasse (The Milky Way), 1985-1987

Artwork Details

Collection Highlight

Materials

diptych: emulsion paint, oil, acrylic, and shellac on canvas, with applied copper wires and lead

Measurements

left panel (1988:6a): 150 x 111 x 8 inches (381 x 281.94 x 20.32 cm); right panel: 150 x 111 x 8 inches (381 x 281.94 x 20.32 cm); overall: 150 x 222 inches (381 x 563.88 cm)

Collection Buffalo AKG Art Museum

Credit

In Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, General and Restricted Purchase Funds, 1988

Accession ID

1988:6a-b

Anselm Kiefer’s artistic practice is deeply tied to his heritage, the natural environment that surrounds him, and the political context in which he works. Kiefer explores the role of the past in shaping national and individual identities through themes that connect the landscape as a genre to cultural memory. Die Milchstrasse (Milky Way) resembles the scorched terrain of an ancient battleground. The work’s title, which the artist has inscribed across a white, gash-like passage at its center, also evokes that of our galaxy. According to Greek mythology, the Milky Way was created when the infant Hercules suckled so intensely on Hera’s breast that she pushed him away, spraying milk across the heavens. In Kiefer’s painting, the celestial body streams across the landscape like a bolt of radiant light whose essence is siphoned off and disseminated by a lead funnel attached to the painting’s surface. Like an alchemical conduit, this funnel seems to mediate between cosmological and terrestrial realms. However, upon closer inspection the viewer may notice that the landscape is not completely desolate: hope is represented by a light that appears to emanate from the center of the canvas and spreads across the center of the field.