Born in Germany just months before the final European battle of World War II, Anselm Kiefer grew up witnessing the results of modern warfare and the division of his homeland. He dedicated himself to investigating the interwoven patterns of German mythology and history and the way they were used by Nazism. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Kiefer's iconography expanded to encompass more universal themes of civilization, culture, and spirituality, drawing upon such sources as the Kabbalah, alchemy, and ancient myth. In The Renowned Orders of the Night, Kiefer portrayed himself as a lonely figure lying on dry, cracked ground beneath the immense mantle of the stars. Kiefer is fascinated by the night sky and its different interpretations throughout history, particularly those describing it as a divine, mysterious kingdom recalling our origins and fate. Spirituality, observes the artist, consists of "connecting with an older knowledge and trying to find continuity in the reasons why we search for heaven. The sky is an idea, a part of ... an older knowledge."