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The Safety Curtain

Season 2023/24

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in the presence of the artist, the temporary »Safety Curtain« 2023/24 was unveiled: Staatsoperndirektor Bogdan Roščić, museum in progress managing director Kaspar Mühlemann Hartl, and curator and jury member Hans-Ulrich Obrist presented the 26th edition of the exhibition series, for which one of the most significant contemporary visual artists, Anselm Kiefer, was secured. His work "Solaris (for Stanislaw Lem)" can be experienced by the public until the end of June 2024 before and after performances and during intermissions.
The musical framework of the presentation was provided by the stage orchestra of the Vienna State Opera.

The »Safety Curtain« is an exhibition series conceived by museum in progress and realized in cooperation with the Vienna State Opera, which has been transforming the safety curtain into a space for contemporary art exhibitions since 1998. The large-scale images (176 m2) are fixed to the fire protection wall with magnets. The selection of artists is the responsibility of an international jury consisting of Daniel Birnbaum, Bice Curiger, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist.

About Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer's constant engagement with cultural memory, identity, and history imbues his works with a complex thematic that draws from a multitude of historical, mythological, and literary sources. These include references to mythology, alchemy, Christian symbolism, and the writings of famous medieval poet Walther von der Vogelweide, Romanian-born poet Paul Celan, French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire, Russian Futurist Velimir Khlebnikov, and Austrian post-war poet Ingeborg Bachmann, to name a few. The language of materials plays a significant role in his works, which often exhibit a sedimentary geological texture. Symbolic connections emerge from lead, concrete, earth, dried plants, glass, barbed wire, and the incorporation of found objects such as books, scythes, and ship models. Many of Kiefer's works can be interpreted in the context of the fractured German identity in the post-war period.

Anselm Kiefer was born in Donaueschingen, Germany, in 1945. In 1992, he moved to France, where he lives and works between Paris and Barjac near Avignon. The artist studied law, literature, and linguistics before attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe and later in Düsseldorf, where he was a student of Joseph Beuys. He was selected for the West German Pavilion at the 39th Venice Biennale in 1980, and his works have since been featured in major solo exhibitions worldwide, including at the Art Institute of Chicago (1987); National Gallery Berlin (1991); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1998); Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2001); Guggenheim Bilbao (2007); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2014); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015); Albertina, Vienna (2016); State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (2017); Met Breuer, New York (2018); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2019); and Grand Palais Éphémère, Paris (2021).

Kiefer was awarded the Praemium Imperiale Award by Japan in 1999, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2008, and the German National Prize in 2023. In 2007, he became the first artist since Georges Braque to create a commissioned work for the Louvre in Paris, and in 2018, his site-specific sculpture "Uraeus" was exhibited outside the Rockefeller Center in New York. The documentary film "Anselm – Das Rauschen der Zeit" by Wim Wenders was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2023— in Vienna, the film was presented as part of the Viennale.

The exhibition series "Safety Curtain" is a project by museum in progress in cooperation with the Vienna State Opera and the Bundestheater-Holding. The "Safety Curtain" 2023/24 by Anselm Kiefer is made possible by: iSi Group and Thaddaeus Ropac with additional support from ART for ART, Hotel Altstadt, and Johann Kattus. Media partners: Die Furche and Die Presse.