AbstractIn the winter of 2014/15, the Royal Academy in London presented a major Kiefer retrospective, and the artist himself turned 70 in 2015. Furthermore, January 2015 saw the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Holocaust has been a recurring theme in his work. The commencement of this project therefore seemed like a propitious moment to attempt to add to the academic literature concerning this artist, which although fairly extensive nevertheless contains a notable gap, namely the extent to which his practice relates to the discourse of the Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk -- even though it has been often invoked in his connection. The aim of my research is therefore to try to theorize this relationship, with specific reference to Kiefer’s painting. I will show that what connects Wagner with Kiefer is an aspiration to borderless-ness, between art and society on the one hand and between the individual arts on the other. I will also show, however, that these are aspects of a single underlying connection, the legacy of the Counter-Enlightenment.
My conclusion will be that a case can be made that Kiefer’s work constitutes the continuation into the twenty-first century of principal themes embodied in the Gesamtkunstwerk, but that these same themes are not antithetical to modernism.
|Date of Award||6 Nov 2018|
|Supervisor||Simon Shaw-Miller (Supervisor)|