Buying Controversial Art Gets Easier with Time
LACMA’s long history with Ed Kienholz has been filled with controversy–but when it organized a recent $1 million acquisition, no one made a peep. The sculpture in question, The Illegal Operation, (left) about abortion had interest from the Tate. The LA Times speculates that shock art has lost some of it’s impact:
But times have changed. So have sensitivities to “shocking” art as museum audiences have become accustomed to Paul McCarthy’s scatological installations and Damien Hirst’s vitrines of dead animals preserved in formaldehyde. And LACMA’s new acquisition has been burnished by civic pride and art historical gravitas. The artist, who died in 1994, at age 66, established himself in Los Angeles before developing an international reputation. “The Illegal Operation” is widely regarded as a seminal early piece by a giant in the field of socially critical sculpture.
The Times leaves off the fact that abortion–especially this particulary gruesome type of abortion–is no longer the divisive and emotional issue it once was. The sculpture is longer shocking because it depicts an historical outrage instead of a present-day outrage.
LACMA lands Ed Kienholz’s ‘The Illegal Operation’ (Los Angeles Times)