The Future as Afterthought
On View at the Getty Center: Pacific Standard Time: Crosscurrents in L.A. Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970
Drawing from the physical, social, and political landscapes of Los Angeles, many of the city’s artists created assemblage sculpture and collage by combining discarded objects. Ed Kienholz was among several artists who utilized assemblage as a mode of social commentary, creating works that expressed personal trauma and social upheaval, while taking a critical view of postwar consumerism and the glut of increasingly disposable wares. In The Future as Afterthought, a mass of grimy, damaged plastic dolls are strapped awkwardly together atop a wooden pedestal in a way that suggests dangerous overpopulation and evokes the form of the atomic mushroom cloud. At the base of the sculpture, a dismembered doll head seems to melt and scream in silent agony, its eyes closed tight in the face of inevitable looming disaster.