Violence used to be part of life in America and had a positive reputation. . . . There was a kind of righteousness about violence—the break with England, fighting for our rights, the Boston Tea Party. Now, in our culture, there is one official social norm—and acts of violence, expressions of dissatisfaction are framed in atomized view as being ‘abnormal’.
—— Cady Noland
Cady Noland (1956-) is a postmodern conceptual sculptor and an internationally exhibited installation artist, whose work deals with the failed promise of the American Dream and how it manifests itself in celebrity culture and everyday life. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and is the daughter of the Color Field painter Kenneth Noland (1924–2010). Based on personal traumas, and through a mixture of sculpture, painting, and installation, Noland’s work examines the underbelly of the American psyche, specifically our fascination with celebrities, violence, and psychopathological behavior. Her aesthetic vocabulary integrates strategies historically associated with Pop art, Minimalism, and Post-Minimalism, with its specific antecedents in the anti-form and scatter sculpture of the late 1960s.
Noland’s early work incorporates press photographs, newspaper copy, and advertisements. In the late 1980s Noland began a series of sculptures and installations examining the masculine underpinnings of the American dream, embodied in men’s beer consumption. Noland delved deeper into the disturbed American psyche and focused on the public’s prurient interest in violence, a phenomenon exemplified in the media’s transformation of criminals into celebrities. In recent years, Noland has forsaken mass-media imagery in favor of a more sculptural vocabulary, continuing the exploration of the dysfunction of American culture in their allusion to torture, public humiliation, and physical confinement.