Anselm Kiefer - Morgenthau Plan (2012)
"The title refers to a proposal drawn up in 1944 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, that would take the demilitarization imposed upon Germany after World War I many steps further, leading to a total deindustrialization of the country. Factories would be decommissioned and the economy would revert to a form of pre-modern agrarianism.
On a shelf in the Gagosian Gallery entrance, piled in a neat stack next to copies of the exhibition’s checklist and press release, there is a letter from Kiefer to Richard Calvocoressi, Director of the Henry Moore Foundation, in which he describes the evolution of the series.
Unless a person wishes to practice l’art pour l’art, he needs a subject. But where does that subject come from? This past year I have painted a number of pictures of flowers. […] They’re beautiful. But beauty in art needs meaning. One can’t have just beauty on its own. True art does not portray beauty alone. Beauty needs a counterpart.
He goes on to write that if the plan were implemented, with the destruction of industrial sites more land would have been gained. The fields would have been opened up for plants of all kinds, for carpets of flowers everywhere.
And so the paintings map out an alternate history for Germany in which the Morgenthau Plan has been put in place and the country’s industrial zones have reverted to their natural state.”