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Seven Heavenly Palaces : what do they mean

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Anselm Kiefer realizes the Seven Heavenly Palacesin 2004, following several trips to India, Egypt, Central America and Israel .

The artist, deeply fascinated by the cultures of these places and how the people who inhabit them celebrate the divine, decided to make what are seven towers of different heights .

Kiefer conceives such constructions as a symbol of man’s defeat in his ambition to rise as a creator .

Why does the artist choose the towers?

Kiefer’s choice comes from a Jewish treatise, the Sefer Hechalot, translated as the Book of Palaces: this is a text dating back to the fifth century, which recounts the symbolic path of spiritual initiation for those who wish to approach God.

Seven Heavenly Palaces
Seven Heavenly Palaces

The artwork “Seven Heavenly Palaces” is on permanent display at Pirelli Hangar Bicocca in Milan.

Seven Heavenly Palaces : what do they mean

Each of the seven towers has a specific name and meaning .

Sefiroth: is the lowest tower, 14 m high, it is also the first to be built. At the top is a stack of seven lead books and presents neon bearing the ten Hebrew names of the Sephiroth, or the instruments of God that contain the very stuff of creation.

Melancholia: named after a 1514 engraving of the same name by Albrecht Dürer. At the basement of this tower there is a representation of the contemporary world in the form of small glass and paper plates marked with the same number series used by NASA to mark celestial bodies.

Ararat is named after the mountain in Asia Minor where biblical tradition believesNoah’s Ark ran aground, represented by a stylized lead model atop the tower.

Seven Heavenly Palaces
Seven Heavenly Palaces

Magnetic Field Lines, on the other hand, is the tallest tower, reaching 18 m. It features a lead film, an element that constitutes a paradox: this is a material that cannot be crossed by light radiation and therefore would not allow the production of any image.

JH & WH are two complementary towers, scattered at the base with elements representing numbered, cast-lead, irregularly shaped meteorites, symbolizing, according to the Kabbalah creation myth, the shards of the vessels into which God willed to infuse life by generating the peoples of the earth and the Jewish Diaspora.

Falling Picture Tower owes its name to the iron frames containing glass panes, often broken, found from the top to the foot of the building.

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