Anselm Kiefer at the Louvre Museum and Olafur Eliasson in Versaille: on the narrative space of a work of art

Keywords: Anselm Kiefer, Olafur Eliasson, Louvre, Versailles, narrative, memory, history, ecology


Anselm Kiefer and Olafur Eliasson, even if divided by generational differences and the material of their art, they share a similar understanding of the function of the work as a narrative medium. The place where the work is exhibited, its historical value and the story it contains force us to reverse the conventionally accepted significance of the presence of contemporary art in two globally recognized, most important museums of France: Kiefer's at the Louvre and Eliasson's at Versailles.

The exhibition of the works of these artists at places that represent historical, symbolic and arti­stic significance both for the French, as well as the whole world, allowed their narrative function to extend and thus to change the perception of the place of a contemporary art exhibition. The connection of contemporary times with history is also an attempt to open the borders defined by the traditional location of the place. Both presentations aim to show how the perception of contemporary art can be changed when it is understood as a continuation of great historical narratives.

In 2007, Kiefer exhibited three works at the Louvre. The artist incorporated his works in the framework of the narrative – history, philosophy, religion, art history, tradition and modernity. In 2016, Eliasson presented sculpture-installations in the gardens and palace of Versailles, in the form of architecture and garden design works whose message is the anxiety and concern about the fate of the modern world. Just as illusory was the world in which the inhabitants of Louis XIV’s Versailles lived, so is our own illusion of a world without borders, a world with endless natural resources, where our conscience is numbed by apparent actions to protect it from eco­logical disaster.

Author Biography

Eleonora Jedlińska, Institute of Art History, University of Łódź, Poland

PhD, after habilitation, professor at the Institute of Art Histo­ry, University of Łódź. Lecturer in modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism of art. A member of the AICA, president of the Łódź branch of the Polish Institute for World Art Studies, a member of the European Association of Jewish Stu­dies and World Jewish Studies. Author of the books: Sztuka po Holocauście / Art after the Holocaust (2001), Polska sztuka współczesna w amerykańskiej krytyce artystycznej w latach 1984-2002 / Polish contemporary art in American art criticism 1984-2002 (2005), Powszechna wystawa światowa w Paryżu w 1900 roku. Splendory Trzeciej Republiki / Uni­versal World Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Splendors of the Third Republic (2015), Kształty pamięci. Wybrane zagadnienia sztuki współczesnej / The shapes of memory. Selected issues of contemporary art (2019).


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