Anselm Kiefer



Born in Germany six months before the end of the Second World War Anselm KIEFER began by studying law and romance languages in 1965 at Freiburg in Breisgau, before switching to follow the art courses taught by Peter DREHER and Horst ANTES. He held his first exhibition at the age of 24. In 1970, he went to study under Joseph BEUYS. Eight years later, his work was hanging in the Berne Kunsthalle and in 1980 he made headlines with the controversial series of works grouped under the theme Verbrennen, verholzen, versenken, versanden at the Venice Biennale. This marked the start of a string of exhibitions that have continued at a frenetic pace. Since 1992, Anselm Kiefer has lived in the Cévennes, at Barjac in the South of France, where he has literally transformed his studio into a work of art. Anselm’s work is shot through with the conflicts that were ravaging the world when he was born. His landscapes are nonetheless full of poetry and metaphor.

A travelling artist, his art covers the whole of Europe and beyond to Israel and the USA. Naturally, his market is international. Works sell principally in the USA, the UK, Germany and France. Since 1997, paintings have made up 74% of all transactions. Another 10% have been drawings or watercolours with only slightly fewer prints and posters. His photographs, sculptures and three-dimensional works together make up just 9% of sales at auction. That said, demand is increasing and supply is limited. Barely fifteen pieces make it onto the market each year.

Driven by the relentless sequence of international exhibitions, such as that running at the Paris Grand Palais from May 30 to July 8, 2007, Anselm Kiefer’s index has been rising steadily since he first began to appear at auction. Between 1997 and 2007 his Artprice Index rose by 187%. Already, in 1988, he had broken the EUR 100,000 barrier with Der Eingeborene, a montage of photographs, paper collage and branches created just 4 years earlier and sold for USD 150,000 (EUR 137,204) at Sotheby’s New York. In 2001, he had his first million plus sale for Athanor, a 3.8 metre work sold for USD 1.05 million on November 14, also at Sotheby’s New York. Another landmark came on February 8, at Christie’s London, when a new record was set for a work by Kiefer: GBP 1.6 million (EUR 2.4 million), bid for Laßt tausend Blumen blühen!, a large mixed technique piece on canvas from 1999 which had been timidly estimated at GBP 300,000-500,000.

With this explosion in prices, affordable pieces have become harder to find. Over the last ten years, nearly 90% of the works sold at auction went for more than EUR 10,000. Not a single work on paper has gone for less than this in two years. A small 27 cm high watercolour changed hands for EUR 45,000 on April 26, 2007, at Nagel (Stuttgart). Even the offset print Johannis-Nacht is now finding buyers at EUR 1,800 (October 27, 2006, at Artcurial).