News — Jun 18, 2024

For the first time in their history, the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam are joining forces to stage a major exhibition of one of the most important artists of our time: Anselm Kiefer.
Fltr.: Anselm Kiefer, 'Innenraum', 1981, oil, acrylic and paper on canvas, the artist, 287.5 × 311 cm, coll. Stedelijk Museum and 'The Starry Night', 2019, mixed media on canvas, 470 x 840 cm ©Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Georges Poncet

This exhibition, which opens in spring 2025, places Kiefer centre stage. Like a diptych, it is one show in two parts; never before has the artist’s special connection with the work of Vincent van Gogh been highlighted. All of Kiefer’s best-loved works from the Stedelijk collection – a museum that has been pivotal to his career – will be displayed together. Both venues will also present new, previously unexhibited work by the artist. Anselm Kiefer: Sag mir wo die Blumen sind tells a unique story about Kiefer’s development as an artist. One entrance ticket gives visitors access to the full show across both museums.

The title of the exhibition is taken from the 1955 protest song Where have all the flowers gone by American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger. It became more famous in 1962 when Marlene Dietrich performed the song in English, German and French. Sag mir wo die Blumen sind is the title of a new, large spatial work by Kiefer that will be on view at the Stedelijk. The flowers of the title are also a reference to the Sunflowers (1889) of Vincent van Gogh and to recently made landscapes by Kiefer, which make their debut in this exhibition.

Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945, Donaueschingen, Germany) was born in the closing months of World War II, and as a boy he played in the debris of post-war Germany. In the late 1960s, Kiefer was one of the first German artists to address the country’s fraught history in monumental, acerbic works for which he sustained intense criticism in his homeland. In the Netherlands, his work first gained recognition among collectors and museums like the Stedelijk. Later, Kiefer would be hailed for breaking the silence surrounding Germany’s past. His work reflects on themes such as history, mythology, philosophy, literature, alchemy and landscape.

Fltr: Edwin Becker and Emilie Gordenker (Curator and Director Van Gogh Museum, respectively), Anselm Kiefer, Rein Wolfs and Leontine Coelewij (Director and Curator Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, respectively), April 2024. Photo Tomek Dersu Aaron

The presentation at the Van Gogh Museum will demonstrate the enduring influence of Vincent van Gogh on Kiefer’s work. At the age of seventeen, Kiefer won a travel scholarship and chose to follow the route taken by Van Gogh from the Netherlands to Belgium and France. Van Gogh and his work have remained a vital source of inspiration for him. The exhibition presents previously unseen paintings by Kiefer in combination with several key works by Van Gogh.
Emilie Gordenker, Director, Van Gogh Museum: ‘Anselm Kiefer has been engaged with Van Gogh’s work from his early years. Sometimes the inspiration is almost literal, as in the case of La Berceuse (for Van Gogh) in the use of sunflowers and the reference to Augustine Roulin, the woman rocking the cradle. His recent work – displayed here for the first time – shows how Van Gogh continues to make his mark on Kiefer’s work today.’

The presentation at the Stedelijk focuses on Kiefer’s close ties to the Netherlands, particularly the artist’s connection with the museum. The Stedelijk acquired Innenraum (1981) and Märkischer Sand (1982) early in the artist’s career and staged an acclaimed solo exhibition of his work in 1986. This exhibition is not only an unprecedented opportunity to see all the works in the Stedelijk’s collection together, but also a chance to see Kiefer’s more recent paintings and especially two new, spatial installations, including the aforementioned titular work: a 24-metre-long painterly installation, which the artist is currently completing and which will fill the space around the historic staircase.
Rein Wolfs, Director, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: ‘The Stedelijk has a long relationship with Anselm Kiefer and has played an important role in the acceptance of the artist’s work. That connection will be expressed in two special spatial installations he will show in our building, and which will be an immersive experience. It will be truly remarkable to see these installations shortly amid several of his iconic works from the 1980s. In this way, Kiefer looks back at the past and towards the future.’

The exhibition will be on view from March 7, 2025, on, ticket sales will start later this year. Further details will be announced shortly.

Fltr.: Anselm Kiefer, 'Voyage au bout de la nuit', 1990, mixed media, 239 × 750 × 750 cm, and 'Untitled', 1989, 340 × 501 cm, coll. Stedelijk Museum. Vincent van Gogh, 'Wheatfield with Crows', 1890, oil on canvas, 50.5 × 103 cm, coll. Van Gogh Museum