Anselm Kieifer, "To the Unknown Painter," 1983
Mixed Media: oil, emulsion, woodcut, shellac, latex paint, and straw on canvas
Anselm Keifer is a German painter who paved the way for Neo-expressionism, a movement that revived the arts of painting, carved and casted sculpture, and the emotional content of German Expressionism. The movement also resurrected many motifs found in German Expressionist pieces, including violent, personalized brushstrokes, social commentary, and historical references.
Keifer manipulated these concepts and dragged them into a contemporary setting, utilizing various mediums to provide an array of textural and colorful effects. This evokes the imagery and horror of the Holocaust, picturing a concentration camp building, most assumedly a crematorium as smoke rises from the background. The building, presumably made from woodcut, juxtaposes the thick and murky lines representative of the charred and blood-stained ground. His use of primary warms tones—yellows and reds—conjures the necessary tones for earth and blood while contrasting the painting's thick black foundation. The piece well executes the unified pandemonium indicative of a Holocaust scene.