Anselm Kiefer's <i>Lot's Wife</i>: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator

Martin Harries

in Forgetting Lot's Wife

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227334
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241026 | DOI:
Anselm Kiefer's Lot's Wife: Perspective and the Place of the Spectator

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Altdorfer's painting takes the place of memory. Just as the logic of memory is disturbed here, so the logic of Sebald's poem moves, not ungrammatically but also not exactly logically, from “Nürnberg in flames” to the painting by Altdorfer. As Huyssen's and numerous other accounts suggest, it is hard to resist Kiefer's paintings' intense interpellation of the spectator. That interpellation requires attention to the perspectival tradition in which he works and to the specificities of painting's placement of the spectator. Lot's wife is the original witness of a great massacre, but only a wholly secular and resistant reading of the Bible can rescue her as a figure analogous to the “witness” to the Holocaust. In both Genesis and Exodus, the theological register defines the power of the commandment: the Bilderverbot is divine and absolute.

Keywords: Sebald; interpellation; Altdorfer; Anselm Kiefer; holocaust; Bilderverbot

Chapter.  11794 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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