Middle School

We Are History

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
Anselm Kiefer has always been acknowledged as “the artist of history”, particularly German history, because his works originate from profound reflection on memory and on “how to remember”. Each of us has an individual history full of events and encounters that have determined our path: The idea is thus to help young people understand that their personalities are influenced by an array of factors that this activity aims to bring out.

Focus Areas
• Geography
• Italian
• Religion
• History

Educational Objectives
The workshop aims to underscore the importance of individual history, as well as personal and family memories as the constituent elements of collective memory. The child will become aware that his or her personality is the outcome of personal experience and that existence goes beyond the present and is irrevocably bound to the history of his or her own context.

Activities
Starting with the reflection on the importance of memory in the language of Anselm Kiefer, students will be asked to identify people, places or things that are particularly significant to them. They will be asked to imagine that they are picking up Kiefer’s Falling Pictures and to think about what they would like to see represented inside the frames. Using recycled material that is provided to them, each child will create his own picture and “content”. When everyone has made their pictures they will build a tower with boxes and use it to hang their works. Kiefer’s pictures will thus be picked up and put back in place!

The Towers Tell a Story

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
When making his work, Anselm Kiefer was profoundly inspired by the idea of the tower in history, with many references to the architecture of the past, but especially to its symbolic value. His towers, which each consist of between five and seven modules, testify to what remains after every conflict. Their precarious look does indeed make them appear like ruins, as the memory of a by no means distant past, or the foreboding of a possible future. When looking at them, some have wondered: “Are they the remains of an ancient city, an industrial settlement or of a village with asbestos-cement roofs?” There is no single answer to this question, for there can be many interpretations and everyone can apply their own imagination to them.

Focus Areas
• Italian
• History
• Art and image

Educational Objectives
The activity is designed to show the kids a different approach to history, letting them discover how the same architectural forms may be repeated in every age, but with different functions, depending on the particular historical period. Having them build a tower of their own to reflect their world and their needs, and choosing a particular historical period for this, is designed to include them actively in the flow of time and make them the manual creators of a past that will testify to the present. Individual work and a spirit of cooperation between classmates will also be developed.

Activities
At the beginning of the activity, the kids will be shown pictures of various towers that have been built throughout the course of history, from ancient lookout towers to bell towers, minarets and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, through to towers of distant cultures and the modern towers of our cities, such as skyscrapers and chimneys. The class will then be divided into groups and each one will be asked to invent a tower, taking inspiration from the ones they have seen together, imagining what it might look like and be used for, and what functions it might have. The students will decide whether to take inspiration from a historical tower or to make one that might suit their present needs.

Stellar Myths

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
For the opening of Pirelli HangarBicocca in 2004, the German artist Anselm Kiefer created an installation called The Seven Heavenly Palaces, to which in September 2015 he added five large canvases that give new meaning to his original work.
In the form of constellations, meteorites and stars, the celestial sphere is the protagonist of the stories told by the towers and paintings.

Focus Areas

  • Italian
  • History
  • Science
  • Art and image

Educational Objectives
During the guided tour with the arts tutors, the children will find out more about the celestial sphere, through stories about constellations, meteorites and stars.
The aim of this activity is to help the children find out how the heavenly bodies can lead to different interpretations, depending on the terms of reference, which may be artistic, mythological or scientific.

Activities
Starting with a reading of myths and legends about the constellations, each participant will be asked to make one of their own, using the materials provided.
At the end of the activity, the works will be placed next to each other to create the idea of a great sky, where different sets of stars – all telling different stories – can coexist harmoniously.

One, No One, a Hundred Thousand

“The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015” by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
In his Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015, Anselm Kiefer uses several objects imbued with a value that goes beyond what they represent: the tower, the book, the ship and numbered glass shards. The latter help us discover the star, the recurrent element in our daily life, geographical and political history, and – above all – religions. We will see how a seemingly commonplace image can hold countless meanings that are universal and subjective, immediate and hidden, shared and personal. We will learn that each object can invoke an invisible world that goes beyond its mere representation: form and content, significant and significance, do not always coincide. The symbol is something different from what it appears to be, the visible part of that which is not present.

Focus Areas
• History
• Italian
• Religion
• History of Art

Educational Objectives
The young people will be asked to reflect on the multiplicity of senses that an image contains, learning to go beyond appearance to glean the true value that is concealed behind forms. They will understand the difference between sign and symbol, and the fact that, at times, they can be universal and shared by all, whereas at other times they are strictly subjective.

Activities
Starting with the recognition and interpretation of the symbols in The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015, they will ponder the broader concept of symbols and the contexts in which they are used. Therefore, starting from the assumption that any daily object can remain such, but can also acquire a myriad of meanings, the young people will be asked to choose an object, form, fruit or word that best represents them, to which they will attribute a content and meaning that will make them their own personal symbol, on a strictly subjective level.

Further information

Thematic Activities: Anselm Kiefer and Multi-material Painting

"The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015" by Anselm Kiefer

Introduction
Five large paintings from between 2009 and 2013, on display for the first time, enrich and expand The Seven Heavenly Palaces, the permanent work by Anselm Kiefer, bringing new meaning to it by creating an interaction between the installation and the new paintings. An in-depth analysis of Kiefer’s artistic practice reflects on the core aspects of his work, including the relationship between man and nature, and references to the history of ideas and Western philosophy.

Focus Areas
• History of Art
• Italian and Foreign Literature
• History
• Religion

Activities
The course will consist of two parts: the first in the form of a brief face-to-face lesson, with images showing the use of materials in Kiefer’s art from the 1970s onwards. In the second, the children will be accompanied by the arts tutors around the exhibition to observe and analyse the five paintings in relation to the Heavenly Palaces. At the end of the activity, they will be given a small fascicle with the key notions explained during the lecture.

 

Further information