Saturday, September 09, 2006

Resurrexit (Anselm Kiefer)


The gallery card accompanying this painting says that the title, Resurrexit, is a melding of "resurrection" and "exit". The word is, of course, also Latin: "Christus resurrexit," we sing on Easter. But this painting doesn't fit into a morning of incense, lilies, and bells. Here, a snake slithers over flame-colored leaves, down an alley of bare trees toward a smoky sky. The stairs leading up and out are tacked onto the top, the transition from forest to indoors unclear. They resemble the stairs to the attic Kiefer was using for a studio at the time. Do exit and resurrection take place through art? Or is the painting saying that the way to resurrection/exit-- like any death, despite our hope for rebirth-- is narrow and difficult, with the end result unclear?

It's a rather bizarre juxtaposition of two quite different artists, but looking at this, I'm reminded of Flannery O'Connor's short story "The Lame Shall Enter First," in which a widowed father anxious to pursue good works does so at the expense of a relationship with his own son. The boy takes to reading the Bible and studying the stars from an attic room, and believes he has seen his dead mother in the heavens. One evening, his father has a moment of radical clarity and realizes he's neglected the one person he loves the most. He rushes up the stairs to him, throwing open the door to find the "image of his salvation" has hung himself, an act O'Connor calls his "flight into space". Who knows what kind of resurrection/exit lurks behind the door to Kiefer's attic?

5 Comments:

At 11:58 AM, Blogger revabi said...

I love your review and brining up recollection of Flannery O'Connery's story "The Lame Shall Enter First." don't we all need to flin open the doors of our lives to those we have left behind, or closed off. Great post.

 
At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Virologista said...

Anna, I didn't know you had a blog! I found it linked from iconoclam.

Reviews of shows I'll never see are what makes the Arts section of the Times a bit of a downer for me. You know, compared to the International section which is such a hoot.

 
At 11:32 PM, Blogger Anna said...

RevAbi, thanks! It's always nice to know one's not just writing into the void, and to hear others' thoughts on one's thoughts.

Virologista, off to figure out who you are...

 
At 12:29 PM, Blogger Brad and Samantha said...

hi i came across your blog as i am doing a paper on Flannery O'Connor.
Love the story and message in the Lame Shall Enter First!

 
At 8:01 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Great post. Excellent thoughts.

 

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