Wednesday, May 22Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Anselm Kiefer and the Pornography of Art

It doesn’t take much stimulus for me to assimilate a passion about art, whether I’m revelling or critiquing, given the material I will go on until I’ve either inspired someone or angered them. It was only the other week that I found myself in a heated (and drunken admittedly) discussion with an older friend over an exhibition which I had just attended. Anselm Kiefer at the Royal Academy is absolutely spectacular. I hadn’t previously expected to connect to the extent at which I did with his love of books and mythology, and how they play a pivotal role in many of Kiefers pieces.

However, he expresses the ability to carry us down to earth by combining the celestial with the realities, of the Second World War for example, a subject portrayed through many of his early works and indeed percolating into more contemporary pieces. As well as being overwhelmed by the subject matter, one cannot help but become confounded by the sheer size of the pieces! That, and the rich materials he uses to create these awesome constructions, for example gold leaf and even diamonds! I had been completely flabbergasted… That was until I approached his smaller pieces, and stumbled upon a crude image of a nude woman with a gaping vagina, beckoning, teasing her audience until they accumulated the courage to take a closer look.

Now, the naked form has been portrayed through art since the outset, in ways which are both beautiful and shocking, but when an artist feels the need to reintroduce this “shock” factor, it appears almost like an animalistic transgression from creativity to unoriginality, wherein the audience is left with something not quite complete. It becomes a typical “picture” that offers no auxiliary levels of either enigmatic or understandable proportions. I’m not saying that crude and shocking art doesn’t always work though.

My friend returned with a story. His own acquaintances had previously visited the Saatchi gallery, and though I cannot locate the piece that he was referencing, it was compelling to hear how they had looked upon a large monochrome piece and envisioned an elephants head before them, and yet it was only until their eyes had adjusted that they discovered it was in fact the pudenda of a woman. Massive and boorish, yet instigating a constructive and exclusive thought process. For me, art is about perspective. It would come as no surprise if another person were to have an adept opinion against my own, that makes it all the more enticing! This doesn’t mean that art isn’t about the artist as well as the viewer, it merely means that it can affect a person in whichever way suits them, which is the exact reason for why I love it.
Now go and see Kiefer’s exhibition at the Royal Academy. £9 for students!