Uraeus: Anselm Kiefer’s Sculpture In Rockefeller Center

Uraeus: Anselm Kiefer’s Sculpture In Rockefeller Center

German artist Anselm Kiefer, known for his massive paintings and installations covering history, culture, religion and mythology, has his new sculpture, Uraeus, on display at Rockefeller Center in New York City now through the end of May. We spoke with Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator of the Public Art Fund to learn more about this interesting piece.

What, in particular, speaks to you regarding Anselm Kiefer’s work?
Like so much of Anselm’s work, Uraeus is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. The piece conveys a distinct sense of wisdom, power and history where books themselves, be they fallen or abandoned, are included to transmit knowledge. I think the aspiration that we as humans have to grow and to connect with something that is spiritual also resonates. The snake itself has so many symbolic meanings – that of danger but also of regeneration and healing – and I think Anselm wonderfully weaves a story that’s intelligible, without requiring an in-depth, scholarly understanding of his work.

How relevant is Uraeus in 2018?
Uraeus is particularly poignant at a moment in our culture where the idea of wisdom, knowledge and truth as being important foundations of society is threatened. And beyond that, the rise of the digital era and the huge changes in the ways we see and understand the world – I think there’s something significant about that, both physically and symbolically.

What was the motivation behind displaying the piece at Rockefeller Center?
When we first started looking I didn’t specify a location, but ultimately Anselm chose Rockefeller Center. There was a magnetism that drew him here, and what Anselm has done brilliantly (and what I didn’t realize until seeing the work installed) is that he has managed to turn Rockefeller Center into part of his work. You stand in front of the piece and see the buildings flanking this magnificent winged book, creating a very dramatic perspectival recession which culminates with 30 Rock.

Uraeus, 2017 – 2018
Lead, stainless steel, fiberglass, and resin
298 1/8 x 441 x 346 1/2 inches
757 x 1120 x 880 cm ​
© Anselm Kiefer. Photographs by Nick Knight. Courtesy of Gagosian, Public Art Fund, and Tishman Speyer

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