Photo (of cut-outs) by: Geoffrey Clements | Sent from: New York City
One of the most brilliant, highly influential, and endlessly ripped-off sculptors of the 80s/90s is someone you’ve never even heard of. Although Cady Noland has rarely exhibited over the past ten years, she looms large by reputation, and because of the mystery surrounding her self-imposed exile. Noland’s works from all those years ago still look as tough, fucked up, timely, and strange as ever. And her long absence has given her a kind of mythic status. She is a subject of continuing fascination for younger artists, while collectors and museum curators routinely ask the same questions: Is Cady still working? Is Cady Noland even fucking alive? If she opened a show next week, the line would run around the block.
With an eye for the darkest corners of American life and an uncanny talent for making scary-looking art with anything from steel poles and deli grabbers to handcuffs and geriatric walkers, she imagined a whole new vocabulary for sculpture. Noland has also done the best job ever of an artist looking at sexy criminals like the SLA, while her interest in someone like Manson was based on her belief that “psychopaths tend to act out the undercurrent of a culture’s latent principles.” Her titles are just as taunting, suggestive, and confrontational as the objects they name: Walk and Stalk, Your Fucking Face, Celebrity Trash Spill.
Cady’s departure from the art world, and seemingly most of the real world, too, was so complete that most art kids today don’t even know about her. A recent visit to Cooper Union’s campus confirmed this. “Cady who?” was the most common response we received when asking undergrads about Noland. Then we showed them some of her works and told them the story, and they went sprinting off to their studios muttering, “Holy shit.”
VICE knows that Noland should be a role model to every artist earnestly clutching a brush or a camera or whatever they choose to use, but for now she remains Chelsea’s very own Greta Garbo. Until her return, she is a hero to us for saying an unceremonious “Later” to the bullshit art world just when her star was ascending to the highest heights.