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March 13, 2011

CAC's Late Night Art Thread- DST edition

New day. A few weeks ago a moron suggested I move the Art thread to Sunday (as the Book Thread happens at the beginning of the day). I thought it was a good idea, so here we are.

I will eventually get around to my 10 Works Every Moron Should Know, particularly the later works because they will probably cause lots of screaming and frothing and that is always entertaining here (perhaps not on a level like Pristine O'Connell versus Dike Tassel, but entertaining nevertheless).

However in that original thread a moron brought up an artist he felt I had slighted by not mentioning, and I have to agree with him.

So for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, let me introduce you briefly to Edward Kienholz.

An "over-glorified hillbilly" in the eyes of some critics for having little artistic training and farmboy upbringing, he nevertheless used his experience in carpentry, electrical, and general handyman work to construct massive, complex tableaux that 30 years hence haven't lost their edge. His focus was on the "forgotten man" and the dirtier moments of the everyday American.

Take Backseat Dodge '38(1964) for example:

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Controversial at the time of its installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (yes, hard to believe at one time Angelenos were actually shocked by things), it depicted an actual '38 Dodge cut down to its rear with a scene that has been replayed by teenagers, cheating spouses and overweight drunks since the dawn of the automobile- a couple (abstracted with chicken wire, fabric, and various found objects) boning in the backseat:

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The work was nearly removed out of accusations it amounted to blatant pornography, but with the burgeoning car culture of the time and place I suspect the rather visceral (and not very pleasant) depiction of back-seat banging struck an uncomfortable cord with a public that preferred their automotive escapades not made the subject of a work of art. The beer bottles and clothing tossed around inside the work were also objected to by moral busybodies who implied it was sending an exaggerated and inappropriate message.


After 14 beers, who cares about last weeks' newspapers and old shoes (and said 14 beer bottles) scattered where you are ready for some hot honeybadger lovin'? Unlike the pretty, picture-perfect scenes of auto lovemaking you see in movies or porn, it is as close to reality as one could get without subsequently panicking that the rubber broke and tripping over a few glass bottles or cans ending ones night face down on the concrete and, well thats for another thread.

While Backseat Dodge '38 is perhaps his most infamous, his most haunting and effective work to me is The State Hospital (1966):

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Rather plain from outside, it mimics the walls of a 1940s mental hospital.
However, looking through the barred window one sees a scene I think is perhaps one of the most striking and psychologically painful in modern art:

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The two figures heads were fishbowls filled with identical black fish, illuminated by the single bulb at the top. The image of perpetual misery, isolation and mental imprisonment is unnerving. Kienholz skill as a carpenter and his personal experience working at a mental hospital only heightens the experience with its environmental realism- the drab white walls and the dirty quarters of rust and excrement.

Kienholz' lack of formal artistic education does not make his work inferior nor does it weaken its impact. His dependence upon his life experience has given us a body of art that is dirty, uncomfortable, relatable and honest. I will leave this week's main entry with this description of Kienholz' funeral by critic Robert Hughes:

"The artist Edward Kienholz's last piece was his burial, which took place at a hunting cabin he owned on top of a mountain in Hope, Idaho, in 1994. He had died of a heart attack at age 65, and now his corpulent, embalmed body was wedged into the front seat of a brown 1940 Packard coupe. There was a dollar and a deck of cards in his pocket, a bottle of 1931 Chianti beside him and the ashes of his dog Smash in the back. He was set for the afterlife. To the whine of bagpipes, the Packard, steered by his widow Nancy Reddin Kienholz, rolled like a funeral barge into the big hole. All in all, it was the most Egyptian funeral ever held in Idaho."- Time Magazine, 1996.

Now onto Moron Art!
As always if you have some work to share (2D/3D/film/etc), shoot a JPEG or two
to theoneandonlyfinn (at) gmail.com.

First up is moron Roadking with a triptych:

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"The Trinity: Study 1" 2011. Watercolor on Travertine and Mahogany, 69.5"X 16"

Moron Ken S wants to you to see the dark twisted side of a restaurant. Or he is just really damn good with depicting a night scene in pastel, I haven't figured out which is the case:

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"Ted Drewes" 2011. Pastel on paper, 31" x 21".

and some Saint Paul Moron sent this lovely image of New Jersey on a clear day:

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"Untitled" Digital Photo 2011?

Bah. That took way, way too long.

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posted by CAC at 11:20 PM

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