Half a century after Kristallnacht, the Holocaust is a treasure trove of super-strength imagery that artists are inclined to adapt with little apparent hesitation. In some cases, there’s an honest if dangerous effort to bring the unimaginable into line with the needs of the contemporary imagination; elsewhere images are presented in such a way that their precise relation to Hitler’s Final Solution is veiled, even obfuscated. The Anselm Kiefer retrospective, currently at the Museum of Modern Art on the final leg of a four-city, nation-wide tour, is a phenomenon that has brought an aestheticized fascination with Nazi Germany to the attention of an enormous public.[1] Kiefer’s mammoth images of charred tracks of earth are if nothing else a tabula rasa upon which many critics have inscribed their own overheated associations. And these...


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