Bahnsen goes to the Gallery: A Presuppositional Response to Anselm Kiefer’s “Sternenfall”

From 2014-2016, I led public tours through the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin. The most popular work in the contemporary galleries was a large piece commemorating victims of the Holocaust entitled “Sternenfall” (Falling Stars) by the German artist, Anselm Kiefer. Due to its tendency to draw crowds and the contemplative subject matter concerning World War 2, I took an eager interest in Kiefer’s work.

This paper will argue Kiefer’s “Sternenfall” assumes a Christian metaphysic, ethic, and epistemology. By applying Greg Bahnsen’s interpretation of Cornelius Van Til’s transcendental argumentation to Kiefer’s artwork, I will show “Sternenfall” (1998) presupposes Christian theism in the three primary worldview categories. By applying Bahnsen’s apologetic method to Kiefer and his interpreters, their reliance on Christian presuppositions will be revealed.
Two contributions to the field of Christian apologetics are offered. A distinctly Christian response will be given to the work of an artist who commands premium gallery space in nine of our nation’s most prestigious museums. With a career spanning fifty years, Kiefer’s work is overdue for a Christian response. In addition, this paper will offer the first presuppositional response to Kiefer’s work, as far as I am aware.
Kiefer’s name may be unknown in theological circles, but his work is ripe for Christian critique.This article equips Christian apologists to better defend the faith in the arts.

6 thoughts on “Bahnsen goes to the Gallery: A Presuppositional Response to Anselm Kiefer’s “Sternenfall””

  1. Good student paper
    Interesting — and the Sternenfall painting is intriguing in itself; but, I confess . . . I was more distracted by her reliance on Bahnsen/Van Til for her analysis than further intrigued.

    Wouldn’t be bad if she presented; I’ve got her at “2nd tier consideration,” though . . .

  2. Personal– not sure if it’d be popular
    I feel like this would be far more interesting if visuals were allowed. I’m concerned that in an academic reading of this the personal and visual aspects would be sorely missed.


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