In her book the White Album, Joan Didion writes: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969.” (pause) That’s the day Charles Manson and his followers murdered seven people, further straining the tattered fabric of an American dream, already threadbare from the Vietnam War.
Here, in Cady Noland’s piece, we see Charles Manson in custody on October 5, 1970, the day before an infamous incident in which he lunged at the presiding judge with a pencil. In Noland’s hand, Manson is a symbol of violence and the media’s conflation –or confusion—of criminal and celebrity. Joanne Heyler.
It's a cutout piece of aluminum on which is silkscreened an image of Charles Manson during the time of his trial. And it's actually an AP photo, a press photo. And that's made very clear when you see the back of the piece, which for the artist is almost as important as the image itself.
What Noland seeks, more than anything, is transparency and honesty about American history. She casts an unflinching eye on a turbulent past far too important to be forgotten.
Cady Noland was born in 1956 in Washington, D.C., and earned a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York. She lives and works in New York City. Noland emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a force in contemporary art with her gritty critiques of America’s material and ideological culture. Before showing with Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, her work was part of Colin De Land’s legendary American Fine Arts Gallery. Noland’s work has been exhibited in the Whitney Biennial and Documenta 9. Solo exhibitions have been organized by Paula Cooper Gallery; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. There are five Noland works in the Broad collections. Noland works have been loaned to five venues, including the Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.