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Oil paint, ash, stucco, chalk, linseed oil, polymer emulsion, salt and applied elements (e.g., copper heating coil), on canvas, attached to lead foil, on plywood panels
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1990.8.b
© Anselm Kiefer
The subject of railroad tracks was inspired by the artist’s photograph of the Bordeaux rail facility.
As a German artist, Kiefer struggles with the aftermath of the Holocaust and creates work that engages history, ethical issues of the present, and German identity through images emblematic of Nazi sites. This barren, deeply recessed landscape is divided by train tracks, recalling the deportation and death issued by the Nazi party. A substructure of lead mounted on wood is marked by footprints and tire tracks, plastered, burned, and covered with ash. The raw natural materials and destructive artistic process symbolize human tragedy. Salt, applied to the upper half of the work, connects the historical event with the biblical narrative of Lot’s escape from Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife, who disobeyed warnings not to look back at God’s destruction of the cities, was turned into a pillar of salt.
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