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Anselm Kiefer

Departure from Egypt

1984

Born at the end of the Second World War, Anselm Kiefer was part of a generation of Germans coping with the consequences of their country’s cultural and political history, especially the horrors of the Holocaust and its aftermath. After visiting Israel in 1983, he began to draw from Old Testament stories to reflect on the events of World War II and their reverberation in contemporary Germany. For Departure from Egypt, the artist took as his subject the Exodus, the flight led by Moses of the Jews from Egypt. This large-scale painting depicts a vast landscape formed by mud-like deposits of organic material and found objects. Kiefer’s rough and vigorous brushwork suggests a sense of violence, and his inclusion of a metal staff and straw, details from the Old Testament passage, are reminders of the work’s biblical origins.

Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945, Donaueschingen, Germany; lives and works in Barjac, France)
Departure from Egypt, 1984
Oil, straw, lacquer, and lead on canvas
149 1/2 x 221 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by Douglas S. Cramer, Beatrice and Philip Gersh, Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg, Joan and Fred Nicholas, Robert A. Rowan, Pippa Scott, and an anonymous donor

I am not trying to illustrate religion. I’m a storyteller with a broken history. —Anselm Kiefer

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