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Sulamith

Anselm Kiefer, Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamith, 1981. Oil on canvas, private collection.

Anselm Kiefer (b. 1945) is a contemporary German artist whose work often addresses difficult themes, especially Germany’s Nazi rule. Kiefer employs unusual materials, mixing straw, ash, and clay into his paint. This work takes its title from a line in a poem titled “Todesfuge” (Death Fugue) by the Romanian poet Paul Celan. The haunting poem includes reflections on antifascist thought and the atrocities of the Holocaust. Dein Ashenes Haar Sulamith translates as “your ashen hair Sulamith”—Sulamith is a Hebrew name meaning “peace.” Kiefer’s painting shows the violin-shaped back of large woman representing the German people. The line from the poem is spelled out as it sways parallel to the woman’s long black hair.

Anselm Kiefer, Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamith, 1981. Oil on canvas, private collection.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

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