Cady Noland - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    American Fine Arts Co./Colin de Land Fine Art, New York; Acquired from the above by the present owner (1992)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cady Noland’s SLA Group Shot #4 is one of the artist’s most iconic works, one which so expertly demonstrates her ability to powerfully address the dark heart of American society. Graphically and physically powerful, Noland’s work delves into the sociopolitical underpinnings of the American public’s fascination with criminality and celebrity. For Noland, the media’s power to fuel this desire illustrates America’s desire to transform everything into entertainment. The media frenzy that engulfed the nation in the mid 1970s concerning the saga of the young heiress turned radical activist, Patty Hearst, has provided Noland with a rich fount of inspiration to explore this intersection of voyeurism and violence.

    In Berkeley, California on the 4th of February 1974, Patty Hearst (the granddaughter of the powerful publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst) was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. The ultra leftwing guerilla terrorists demanded for the release of several of their own jailed compatriots in turn for the release of Hearst. When the tradeoff then failed, the SLA demanded that Hearst dole out $70 worth of food to each person in need throughout California — a sum which at the time would have cost over four hundred million dollars. In an effort to get his granddaughter back, Hearst donated a huge sum of six million dollars worth of food to the San
    Francisco bay area. Hearst’s donation was apparently not enough, as the SLA refused to release Patty — claiming that the food that he had donated was of inferior quality. In the most famous case of Stockholm Syndrome, on 3 April 1974, Patty Hearst came forward and announced to the public that not only had she formally joined the SLA but was in total support of their goals and tactics. Twelve days later, Hearst was photographed in front of a San Francisco bank holding an M1 Carbine rifle while the group was robbing it.

    The abduction and following transformation of Patty Hearst was a national sensation. The cover of Newsweek’s April 29, 1974 issue featured another photograph of Hearst holding her rifle standing in front of an SLA banner. Noland was drawn to the story due to the irony of the situation — how an heiress to a publishing dynasty not only became a terrorist, but is also portrayed on the cover of the second largest weekly news magazine in America. It wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 90s that Noland began working with imagery from the saga -- but when she did, she did so with great gusto. Some of the works that she created on the subject feature solitary images of Hearst while other more impressive works, in terms of both scale and composition, include Hearst alongside other members of the SLA with the group’s insignia or banner in the background. SLA Group Shot #4 is one of the most impressive of the series, so much so that others from the edition grace not only the Guggenheim’s collection but also that of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.

    Reproducing the popular images themselves is not enough for Noland, however. Her process of using silkscreen to create these works, which in itself is a process inherent and necessary for mass production and consumption, acts as a further prod for the viewer to question the American media’s power over the nation. In a final act of confrontation, Noland aptly chose polished aluminum as the ground for these works. The affect of which forces the viewer to recognize himself as part of the cultural problem by the work’s ability to reflect the viewer in its surface.

12

SLA Group Shot # 4

1990
Silkscreen on aluminum.
76 1/8 x 60 5/8 in. (193.4 x 154 cm). This work can be displayed vertically or horizontally.
This work is from an edition of four.

Estimate
$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $722,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York