“Ruins are a beginning. They are not some sort of ‘level zero.’ The towers in Pirelli HangarBicocca seem to have collapsed in on themselves, but their precarious situation, their nullity as well as our nullity makes us believe in our individuality, which is the site at which the particular and the universal continually unite.”—Anselm Kiefer
Commissioned in 2004 as a temporary work, The Seven Heavenly Palaces was later turned into a permanent installation, and immediately revealed itself to become a part of the collective imagination of Milan. The towers, which consist of a “stratification” of structural elements made of reinforced concrete and lead, intend to symbolize the mystical experience of the ascent through the seven levels of spirituality. Over the course of the years, the installation has undergone changes that have affected its orientation, use, flooring, and walkability, and finally its very nature when in 2015 five large paintings were added under the curation of Vicente Todolí. The choice to dedicate a new publication to Anselm Kiefer’s permanent installation at Pirelli HangarBicocca arose from the awareness that since it was first presented, the work’s characteristics and meaning have continued to spark new reflections. The volume is introduced by a text by Italian philosopher Massimo Cacciari, highlighting the importance of philosophy in Kiefer’s artistic practice, with particular respect to Andrea Emo theories. The essay by Italian scholar Gabriele Guercio explores the artist’s poetic through extensive references to his writings and lectures, while American art historian Matthew Biro analyzes the meaning of each tower forming the installation. The book also includes an unpublished conversation with Anselm Kiefer—the first on the installation—as well as a new and complete photographic documentation, detailed descriptions of each work, and a Bio-bibliography that put Kiefer’s installation into the context of his artistic investigations.