Anselm Kiefer

(one of the) Artist’s Assistants

ELECTROCHOC

“I was coming back from a weekend at Disney and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Monday morning, 6:25 am. I had arranged with a coworker for us to be picked up by an assistant in Belleville to travel together to the studio. 

Upon my arrival, after a short interview with the foreman, José, I had the privilege of meeting  the team and visiting the space. That’s when I felt the shock hit me. I think it took me several years to recover from that experience — equally on a human level as well as on a professional level.” 

Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt

An initiation into material and creation

My job was first and foremost to frame numerous photos in enormous metal frames. I definitely saw that the other assistants were doing tasks that to me, seemed much more interesting and that I was more than capable of doing. Unfortunately for me, it was without counting on the spirit of competition that existed between us common-people in our quest to satisfy the Master, and it took me almost a year to show what I was made of. Menial tasks, without self-esteem, borderline humiliating, I experienced periods of discouragement before finding daily satiety and gratitude. What I enjoy, is the process of making things, utilizing all types of materials, that Anselm would one day use as primary materials and transform into his different works. He compared them to a “vocabulary” that he would use to create meaning. There are an infinite number of objects made with plaster, concrete, metal, lead, brick, glass, dirt.

Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt

Don’t think Julien, do as I say!

Anselm Kiefer
sculpture pour Anselm Kiefer

At the conclusion of those two years, cadenced by the production of those works and the gallery exhibits, the team began to fracture, person by person. Until it was my turn. He told me he was happy with my work. We said goodbye, until next time, shaking hands. He never called me, and I never returned to be one of his assistants again.

Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt

Today I still think of his teachings, his words, I imagine what he would say. He for me is totally idealized. The years passed and I lived my life. The enchantment dissipated, but the admiration remains. 

Two years of significance, gaining structure in my artistic approach. Fashioned and fascinated by the master, like red-hot metal finding its form on an anvil.

Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt
Anselm Kiefer-sculpture-assistant-julien beaucourt

type

client

materials

year

assistant

Anselm Kiefer

mixtes

2012-2013

Les articles autour du projet

Containers, squelette géant de serpent, coiffe style empire de Monumenta Empire oeuvre de l'artiste Huang Yong Ping

Craft or Art

Not long ago, I was interviewed at the Gare de Nantes by a local journalist. The journalist asked me how to best describe my contribution to the concrete tree sculpture; as an artist or an artisan? Normally, this type of question would have left me speechless, had I not thankfully prepared a very polite, very vague answer:

“we are a bit of both”

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