Nancy Kienholz on Five Car Stud

Nancy Kienholz spent three years restoring Five Car Stud, prior to the current exhibition at LACMA. She was present to supervise the installation and talk with staff and the public about the piece.

Five Car Stud was completed in 1971, the last of Kienholz’s works made in Los Angeles. Kienholz readily acknowledged that his work was challenging and even painful. On the web, we have an extraordinary firsthand account–what he called a pictorial chronology — documenting the making of the work. He describes the models that he used, how he struggled to source various elements, and the circumstances behind the fact that the tableau was not exhibited in this country. In fact, except at documenta V in Kasel in 1972, it has not been shown publicly until now. It was kept in a private collection in Japan from 1974 until Nancy began the restoration in 2008 at the Kienholz studio in Hope, Idaho.

Kienholz concludes the chronology with this statement: “I should probably add that in my mind my work has always taken on a kind of life and identity of its own and as I push one way it seems to push back another. In this continuing internal dialogue I understand things better and do hopefully grow. The conversation with Five Car Stud is still very painful and slow, but one thing has been established for sure: if six to one is unfair odds in my tableau, then 170 million to 20 million is sure as hell unfair odds in my country.”

Amy Heibel

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