Anselm Kiefer

German (Donaueschingen, Germany, 1945)

Die Sechste Posaune (The Sixth Trumpet)

painting | emulsion, acrylic, shellac, and sunflower seeds on canvas
Not on view at this time; find out where you can see works from our collection at locations around the Bay Area while our building is closed for expansion
  • Die Sechste Posaune (The Sixth Trumpet)

    Anselm Kiefer, Die Sechste Posaune (The Sixth Trumpet), 1996; emulsion, acrylic, shellac, and sunflower seeds on canvas, 204 3/4 in. x 220 1/2 in. (520.07 cm x 560.07 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis; © Anselm Kiefer

The monumental size of Kiefer's work echoes its grand themes. Whether he is addressing German history or more universal topics, the artist deliberately takes advantage of giant scale to depict imposing structures, cavernous interiors, and vast landscapes.

Here, a sea of dark rain pours from an open sky. Rolling hills snake toward the horizon, and deep cuts in the ground suggest furrowed land waiting to be planted. These elements conjure up many associations: a desert, a pasture, or a war-torn countryside.

In the biblical prophecy of the Apocalypse, an angel sounds the sixth trumpet to signal the release of a cavalry that destroys a third of humankind. Kiefer's rendition suggests parallels with modern military action, but the sunflower seeds swarming in the sky offer a potent symbol of hope. Seeds betoken life and regeneration; the correspondence between heaven and earth in this work is echoed through the falling of real seeds onto the arid painted landscape: a vivid evocation of Kiefer's faith in the possibility of rebirth even after massive devastation has occurred.

204 3/4 in. x 220 1/2 in. (520.07 cm x 560.07 cm)
Acquired 1998
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through a gift of Phyllis Wattis
© Anselm Kiefer


fields, biblical, landscapes, farming, agriculture, swarms, furrows, weather, hills, sky, crops, insects, tribulations, plagues, punishment, disasters

From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore a wide selection of our collection online. Please note that the information presented online is subject to revision. Please contact us at to verify artwork details.

This resource is for educational use and its contents may not be reproduced without permission. Please review our Terms of Use for more information.