Kienholz’s ‘Five Car Stud’ at LACMA
Iconic LA assemblage/installation artist Ed Kienholz’s piece, Five Car Stud (1969-72), is currently on veiw at LACMA after spending forty years in a Japanese storage unit. One of Kienholz’s most controversial works, Five Car Stud is an installation reflecting on the horrific violence inflicted on interracial couples in the era of its creation. Four cars with blaring headlights brighten up a scene of white men in rubber masks castrating a black figure, who writhes in pain on a dirt floor. In the fifth car, an old pickup truck, the victim’s wife buries her face in her hands, unable to face her husband’s pain and unable to save him from a brutal beating. Kienholz, who began his work making full-room installations in which he placed many of his assemblage combines, composes every detail of the scene—the padded dirt floor, the hunched figures and their rubber masks, and the twisted trees that shadow the scene. Installed in a dark room, you approach the installation as if stepping out under the night sky, to a roadside somewhere in the South. A car radio hums in the background, providing eerie elevator music where one would expect screams of pain.