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CHF: Terra Foundation Lecture on American Art: A Harrowing Masterpiece

Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 1–2 pm

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 remained in storage for nearly 40 years. It has only just resurfaced, and, in this slide presentation, CHF Artistic Director Emeritus Lawrence Weschler 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.

Lawrence Weschler, CHF Emeritus Artistic Director, 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.

This lecture is one of three 2012 Chicago Humanities Festival 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.