An important fact about the German artist Anselm Kiefer is the date of his birth: 1945 – the last year of the Second World War. Kiefer was destined to grow up in the traumatised and guilt-ridden Germany that emerged from Hitler’s devastating war. The son of a teacher, he became an artist after having studied law and languages. The need to express the conflicting and agonising currents of thought in his time became a compulsion, and he evolved a visual language in which many contrasting themes and emotions collide.
This week’s wordwatch looks at the use of “commonplace” and how it has evolved from denoting something exceptional to mean something trivial.