Top German peace award goes to artist Anselm Kiefer

Frankfurt  - Anselm Kiefer, 63, the contemporary German artist, was named Wednesday as 2008 winner of a top award that honours writing for peace, the German Book Trade Peace Prize.

In Frankfurt, the judges defended the unusual choice of an artist for a literary award.

They said Kiefer, whose sculptures include huge replica aeroplanes made of battered, corroded lead, had evolved imagery "that makes the viewer feel like a reader." He had also used the recognizable shape of books as a key element in his paintings.

Kiefer, who has lived in France since 1993, is to receive the 25,000-euro prize during the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 19 in the presence of an array of German leaders.

The prize usually goes to novelists or sometimes to scholars whose writings are deemed to improve understanding between rival nations and ethnic groups.

Kiefer's paintings and sculptures, displayed in leading contemporary art museums such as Denmark's Louisiana, often have an anti-war message.

The prize judges said Kiefer had confronted society with the "disturbing message that all things die" and had posed the question whether Germans can ever be artists again after the Holocaust and Nazi domination of the arts.

The award, introduced in 1950, went last year to the Jewish historian Saul Friedlander for his books about the Holocaust. (dpa)