The weight of the world


Photo: Jon Price

There’s an enigmatic postcard on sale at the Royal Academy featuring an image of Norman Foster and the enquiry, “Mr Foster, do you know how much your building weighs?” I can imagine that a fair number of international curators may have posed a similar question to Anselm Kiefer over the years regarding the shipping of his artworks. The first work encountered by the visitor to the current Kiefer retrospective at the RA is a pair of huge glass tanks in the courtyard populated by metal submarines of varying sizes, suspended at different heights, some of them rustily sunk. Referring to Russian poet Velimir Khlebnikov’s eccentric theory that great sea battles occur every 317 years, these are the first vitrines Kiefer has created for an external space and are dramatic, imposing and forceful. They do absolutely nothing to prepare the viewer for the monumentality of what lies within. [Read more…]