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CHF 2012: America

A Harrowing Masterpiece

Terra Foundation Lecture on American Art

In the late 1960s, celebrated American artist Edward Kienholz took on arguably his most fraught subject to date—the toxic legacy of race relations in America. Five Car Stud was as ambitious as it was gruesome. A life-size tableau, it depicted four automobiles and a pickup truck, their headlights revealing a shocking act of violence. Too controversial to be exhibited in the United States at the time, the work was shown at the 1972 Documenta in Kassel, Germany. Shortly thereafter, it was sold into a Japanese collection, whereupon it languished in a warehouse for nearly 40 years. It has only just resurfaced, and, in this slide presentation, CHF Artistic Director Emeritus Lawrence Weschler, longtime friend of the late artist, discusses both Five Car Stud and its historical political backdrop, suggesting that it might be one of the most charged and revelatory works of the past half century of American art.

This lecture is one of three 2012 programs generously sponsored by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The Terra Foundation is dedicated to fostering the exploration, understanding, and enjoyment of the visual arts in the United States for national and international audiences. This program is presented in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Image: © Kienholz, courtesy LA Louver, Venice, CA. Photograph by Tom Vinetz

Speakers and Performers

Lawrence Weschler

CHF Emeritus Artistic Director Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine for twenty years. He is the author of over a dozen books, including Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 2007. He is currently Distinguished Writer in Residence in the journalism department and director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.

CHF Suggests      Related links and resources for further study

Leaders And Thinkers

"Kienholz's 'Five Car Stud' Still Packs A Punch" Editorial
An article from the Los Angeles Times

Good Reads

Who’s Afraid of “Five Car Stud”? by William Poundstone
An article from Blouin ARTINFO

Online Resources

"Five Car Stud"
Los Angeles Times Video
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