Show: Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969-1972, Revisited
What to expect: Kienholz’s life-size tableau is a stark reminder of hate crimes of the past and continuing racism today. Entering a darkened room, you’ll feel as if you’ve stumbled upon an active crime scene. Headlights from old Corvettes and a Ford pickup truck illuminate five white men forcefully pinning a black man to the ground, his face wide with terror. One man pulls a rope tied to his left foot, another holds a shotgun while stepping on his ankle. Yet another holds a knife to his waist, preparing to castrate him. Nearby, a white woman sits inside the truck weeping, powerless to help the black man she was apparently with moments before. We won’t give away any more artistic details—but the final image gives the work an eighth perspective, and it’s a powerful one.
Kienholz, a white artist, described the work as “symbolic of minority strivings in the world today.” Though major steps toward equality have been made since 1972, viewing the tableau 40 years after its creation has a clear message: Americans can’t afford to stop now or forget where we came from.
And while you’re there… LACMA’s other special exhibition, “California Design: 1930-1965 ‘Living in a Modern Way,’” is a delightful trip through time in the Golden State. Be sure to drop by Ray’s & Stark Bar for a glass of wine or the rack of elk, whichever suits.
ALSO: Read our guide to Pacific Standard Time