The Armory Show | Pier 94 | Platform: Town Square | New York
“What we’re trying to do is to make visible the rush of fear that people have when you mention the Supreme Court.”
- Edward Kienholz
L.A. Louver will present Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz’s The Caddy Court, 1986-87, which will be exhibited for the first time in the United States since 1997.
On view in The Armory Show’s 2020 Town Square, the Kienholzes’ large-scale mixed media tableau reimagines the Supreme Court of the United States in one of its original functions as a circuit court. In their interpretation, The Caddy Court was conceived as a road-worthy vehicle, that could literally be driven across the country to adjudicate from state to state, and town to town.
The Kienholzes created the mobile tableau by splicing a 1966 Dodge van between the front and back ends of a 1978 Cadillac. A blindfolded Justice with broken scales comprises its hood ornament; a checkerboard “racing stripe” depicts portraits of all of the Supreme Court justices from 1790 to the year of the work’s creation; and on the car’s doors, the unofficial seal of The Caddy Court of America upholds the motto “Under God We Twist.” Upon entering a portico lined with a law library, the viewer enters the court chamber to discover the presiding justices portrayed by nine taxidermied animal heads and sculls in formal robes.
Although the Kienholzes began their research and work on The Caddy Court in the early 1970s, the tableau continues to call for reflection on the Judicial Branch’s power and scope, and the powerful role the US Supreme Court plays in our daily lives.
IMAGE: Edward & Nancy Kienholz / The Caddy Court, 1986-1987 / mobile tableau: 1978 Cadillac with 1966 Dodge van, plaster casts, photographs, wood, metal, cloth, books, paint, polyester resin, light, shelves, curtain, antlers, animal skulls, taxidermy animal heads, clothing, furniture, clock, American flag, microphones, pitcher, glasses, gavel / 84 x 276 1/2 x 100 in. (213.4 x 702.3 x 254 cm).