Die Ungeborenen (The Unborn) Artist: Anselm Kiefer (German, born 1945)


Modern and Contemporary Art

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design

Anselm Kiefer has established himself as one of the most important post-war German artists. In his works—paintings, sculptures, and installations—Kiefer draws from German culture, making more or less explicit references to recent history, literature, philosophy and art. Kiefer’s Die Ungeborenen combines figurative motives with an abstract background. The artist uses narrative elements—the dresses, numbers, and branches—to evocate the demon Lilith, a figure from Jewish folklore, who was believed to kidnap newborn children. The dresses without bodies, and the adjacent numbers, are also a reminder of the Holocaust. In his work, Kiefer frequently offers a reading of recent history through mythological or classic figures, in this case Lilith. He uses the abstraction of the background not per se, but to demonstrate the universality of his approach; the unborn and the ones who lost their lives are like stars in the infinite sky, countless, yet always on our mind.


Oil, acrylic, and plaster on lead on canvas


unframed: 76 × 122 in. (193 × 309.9 cm)

Credit Line

Purchased with the Katharine Ordway Fund and the Richard Brown Baker, B.A. 1935, Fund

Accession Number



21st century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Collection of the artist; Private Collection (per correspondence with James Cohan Gallery, Aug. 30, 2004, in Curatorial Files).
  • "Acquisitions 2004," in "African Art at Yale," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2005), 207, ill
  • Daniel Arasse, Anselm Kiefer (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2001), 16-17, 19, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

nonrepresentational art

Technical metadata and APIs


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