Brilliant Film About a Powerful Artist


Installation by Anselm Kiefer

I had the good fortune to watch a stunning new documentary about German artist Anselm Kiefer — thank you, Netflix! It made my day. In fact, it made my month of March (which, so far, I must confess, has not been stellar…and it’s not even half-over).

As I’ve said before, ART will save you. It will!

Filmmaker Sophie Fiennes has made this visually arresting film about Kiefer and his spellbinding art. If you are not familiar with Kiefer, or, even if you are, this is your chance to become better acquainted with an important artist.

The film focuses on Keifer’s ongoing installation-in-progress in rural France — where in the 90s he purchased an abandoned silk factory and refurbished the buildings to make them livable and workable and serve as a venue for these monumental works of art.

Fiennes moves her lens at a snail’s pace, which is to say, reverently, covering every inch of the towering rubble, dark crevices and rippled slabs of lead. The camera ponders. Divines. As if she is making love to the materials.

And in the doing, a lesson is imparted on the best way to view art (and does so without a shred of pedantry). Take the time to really look at a piece of art, she shows you with her lens. See how it makes you feel.

The film’s monochromatic palette and meditative style bring to mind the films of Ingmar Bergman and Andrei Tarkovsky, and to great effect. The depth of emotion captured by the camera is at once startling and comforting. Startling, in the beauty to be found in destruction and ruin; and reassuring, for the very same reason.

Her camera work in this film has been described as unconventional. As Fiennes explains to the interviewer (in the clip, below):

“I love observational documentary filmmaking. I don’t like what I call ‘illustrated radio’.”


The film reveals insight into Kiefer’s art-making process as he, with the aid of assistants, painstakingly labor over and bring his work to life. To my delight, he also delves into the deeper meaning behind his work while in conversation with an interviewer.

If you are an artist, if you love art, especially if you love Kiefer’s work, you will love this film.  And, it does have a great title:




Here’s a bit of trivia: the filmmaker’s brother is Ralph Fiennes, the actor…


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