Anselm Kiefer, “Athanor”” Oil on Canvas, 1991
Athanor is the painting executed in 1991 and exhibited in Berlin and Dresden. An evocative and controversial depiction of a Reichstag-like building as a brick oven makes Athanor – a monumental and a very important artwork that simultaneously presents a warning and a depiction of hope and potential to the German people. The title refers to the self-feeding furnace used by alchemists to keep the temperature during the process of turning lead into gold, and matter into spirit. This painting is a metaphor of the turbulent history of Germany, especially in regards to its art and culture. Created at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the painting evokes the memories of the destruction of Berlin in 1945, and the Reichstag fire in 1933.