( Lot's Wife by Anselm Kiefer )title of piece:
Painting, made with paint, pieces of straw, twigs and soil. It shows two railroad tracks, stretching into the distance – the horizon a bleak, white sky.
The painting takes its title from the Bible story of Lot’s wife, who was told not to turn back and look at the destruction of Sodom, but who did – and was turned to salt.
Kiefer’s art has a tendency to deal with history and memory, and specifically German history, and this is no exception. Just as Lot’s wife, Kiefer looks back, seeing what he has left behind.
What kind of Sodom has existed, and been destroyed, in his past, as well as what kind of Sodom he has escaped from. Keeping in mind that this picture deals with German history, the presence of the railroad track, makes me think of the railroad to Auschwitz.
But unlike Lot’s Wife neither Kiefer nor we, the viewers, are turned to salt – and the picture seems to say that sometimes we have
to look back. Sometimes we have to view the evil we leave behind us.
The pieces of straw, twig and soil incorporate the very land itself into the picture and makes it tangible. The land becomes present in the painting in a way it would not have been had Kiefer used just paint. The result is a grounding of the picture. What Kiefer shows isn’t just a parable or a biblical reference, it is real
as the twigs and soil is real.
In short this painting gives me chills.
cross posted to newtranschool