Anselm Kiefer

Johannis Nacht gefallene Bilder [The secret life of plants]

About this artwork

Collapsing towers as allegories for disaster, destruction and the decline of empire are common motifs in Anselm Kiefer’s work of the past decade. This photograph’s double title in two languages, taken from words the artist has inscribed in German and English on the print itself, reinforces this metaphor. Straw and other plant matter frame the falling tower at the centre of the image. This vegetation seems to be consuming the tower, evoking nature’s cycle of life, death and decay. The tower appears illuminated by white light, as if lit by a flame, suggesting the flame of the Johannis Nacht – the night of the summer solstice – which in German folklore is celebrated with bonfires to ward off evil spirits.

see media
  • title:
    Johannis Nacht gefallene Bilder [The secret life of plants]
  • accession number:
    AR01168
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Photograph, black and white, on papers with paint
  • date created:
    2006
  • measurements:
    176.00 x 139.00 cm
  • credit line:
    ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2011.
  • copyright:
    © Anselm Kiefer
This artwork is part of Artist Rooms

Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer