Anselm Kiefer Show Will Go On Without Him Says Beijing Museum

The museum blames its German partner institutions.

Anselm Kiefer said the exhibition is taking place without his consent. Photo: ROLF HAID/AFP/Getty Images.

The Central Academy of Fine Art museum (CAFA) in Beijing has insisted it is within its rights to stage a survey exhibition of Anselm Kiefer’s work despite the fact that the artist publicly disavowed the show by stating that it is taking place without his approval.

“I would like to make clear that I was not consulted about the planned exhibition of my work, Anselm Kiefer in China, and am deeply disappointed that it is taking place without my involvement or consent,” Kiefer said in an emailed statement sent from his Paris studio on Thursday.

In response, CAFA issued a statement on Friday blaming its German partner institutions, the Bell Art Center in Hamburg, and the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, for miscommunication. The Beijing museum says that the Ludwig Museum Koblenz’s director Beate Reifenscheid, who is co-curating the exhibition, “for various reasons failed to communicate smoothly” with the artist.

CAFA went on to claim that the artist signed an agreement allowing the exhibition to take place and said that the exhibition will go ahead as planned. “We have been informed that Mr. Kiefer is not in favor of the exhibition after signing the exhibition agreement with the German organizer,” the statement said, “but given the legitimacy of this exhibition, we have no legal grounds to suspend the exhibition with the organizers of the German Cooperation.”

Billed as the first large-scale retrospective of Kiefer’s work in China, the exhibition will showcase 87 paintings, sculptures, installations, and photographs created by the German artist since 1980.

Citing reports from the Chinese media source Phoenix Art, the Art Newspaper reported that the Chinese co-curator and CAFA Art Museum director Wang Huangsheng said, “We always urged the German organizers to communicate better with Kiefer…The organizer said that they would settle this problem with the artist.”

Wang went on to reiterate that the show would not be cancelled. “CAFA and its art museum think this exhibition is workable as long as the organizer believes it has no problem in legal and procedural fields,” he said.

A representative of the Kunstmuseum Koblenz claimed to be unaware of Reifenscheid’s involvement in the Kiefer exhibition in China, telling artnet News that the director and German co-curator of the exhibition was currently on vacation and unavailable for comment.

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