- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Anselm Kiefer’s “Star Fall,” in which the German artist lies on his back before a constellation of stars, shows his belief in the possibility of life’s transcendence, transformation and healing. At the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s exhibit Anselm Kiefer: Heaven and Earth, these tremendously large — often floor-to-ceiling — paintings use violently scumbled oils and acrylics on burlap and canvas surfaces, as well as found objects such as a dried sunflower, an airplane propeller and lumps of straw. Mr. Kiefer favors lead as a material, even using it for an upright, floor-anchored “book” that he calls “The Secret Life of Plants.” Critics consider the artist one of the greatest of the 20th century. At the Hirshhorn Museum, Independence Avenue and Seventh Street, Southwest. 10 am. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Sept. 10. Free. 202/633-1000 and www.hirshhorn.si.edu.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

“Spotlight on Helmut Kautner,” a retrospective series that begins Monday at the Goethe-Institut of Washington and continues on six subsequent dates in July and August, recalls the career of one of the most reputable German film directors of the 1940s and 1950s. The first selection, Romance in a Minor Key, a romantic melodrama set in Paris in the 19th century, was released in wartime Germany in 1943. For many admirers, it exemplified Mr. Kautner’s ability to keep the Nazi regime at arm’s length and protect his professional integrity. The series advances more or less chronologically. Two other features from the war years, Great Freedom No. 7 and Under the Bridges, will be revived on July 10 and 17, respectively. When “Spotlight” resumes in August, it will present Kautner films from the 1950s: The Last Bridge (a grand prize winner at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival), Ludwig II, The Devil’s General (showcasing Curt Jurgens’ superlative performance as a disillusioned Luftwaffe general modeled on Ernst Udet) and The Captain from Koepenick. All films will be in German with English subtitles. General admission is $6. Showtimes are 6:30 p.m. 812 Seventh St. NW. 202/289-1200 and www.goethede/washington.

— Gary Arnold

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