In the early 1970s, American artists Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz began work on The Caddy Court, a 1966 Dodge van between the front and back ends of a 1978 Cadillac, which reimagines the Supreme Court of the United States in one of its original functions as a “riding circuit” court.
In the Kienholzes’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 edifice 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” bears 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 taxidermy animal heads and sculls in formal robes.
Although the Kienholzes began their 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.
The Caddy Court, 1986-87, is set to be exhibited for the first time in the United States since 1997, from March 5-8, at The Armory Show’s 2020 Town Square, 711 12th Avenue, Pier 94, New York City.
The American artists Edward Kienholz (1927–94) and Nancy Reddin Kienholz (1943–2019) have been the subject of numerous major exhibitions worldwide. Their large-scale tableaux and assemblage works reside in distinguished public and private collections internationally. Select institutions include Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark; Museum Ludwig, Koln, Germany; Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; François Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
More information is available online.
Photos, from above: The Caddy Court, and The Caddy Court interior courtesy by Edward & Nancy Kienholz provided by LA Louver.