Anselm Kiefer has called for organisers to pull his first exhibition in China, which is due to open at Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts (Cafa) on 19 November and possibly tour other venues in the country. The German artist says he was not consulted about the planned show, called Anselm Kiefer in China, and is “deeply disappointed” that it is taking place “without [his] involvement or consent”.
In a statement issued on 16 November, Kiefer says: “Throughout my career I have been heavily involved in all my major international exhibitions and it is a matter of deep regret and frustration that the organisers of my first show in China have seen fit to exclude me from this process.”
There is little information on Cafa’s website about the exhibition, but the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz and the Bell Art Center in Hamburg are named in the advertising material. According to the Chinese website Artron.net, Beate Reifenscheid, the director of the Ludwig Museum, is the chief curator of the Kiefer exhibition. A spokeswoman at the museum confirmed it has loaned around three works to the show, which will reportedly include 87 pieces in total. The artist Wang Huangsheng, who is also the director of Cafa, is named as a co-curator alongside three others. Neither Reifenscheid nor Wang immediately responded to a request for comment. The Bell Art Center was also unavailable immediately.
Introducing the exhibition on Cafa’s website, the organisation’s president Fan Di’an says: “For many years, German friends and I have been exploring ways to bring a large-scale exhibition of Kiefer’s work to China, and we had particularly hoped that, with his personal participation, we could present the key elements in his thinking.”
However, Kiefer says that the organisers appear to have misrepresented his position, “suggesting that [he is] endorsing this project”. The artist refutes this and has written to them to clarify his position and “to request that the exhibition is cancelled”.
Kiefer says: “The Chinese audience is an important one to me and I very much hope that I might develop a major survey of my work in China at some point in the future. In the meantime, I cannot support this exhibition in any way and will most certainly not be in attendance.”
In a joint statement, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac and White Cube, who all represent Kiefer, said: “Anselm Kiefer in China, is planned to take place without the artist's prior knowledge and against his wishes. Anselm Kiefer has always been fully involved in the selection and organisation of his major international exhibitions. To plan such an important showcase in China without the artist's input is disrespectful. We can confirm that the artist does not endorse the show and will not be attending.”