Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Cady Noland (American, b. 1956)

Chainsaw Cut Cowboy Head, 1990

Silkscreen on aluminum with rope, roll of tape, and cigarette box

60 x 60 x 19 1/4 in. (152.4 x 152.4 x 49 cm)


Gift of Susan and Lewis Manilow
1999.36

In Chainsaw Cut Cowboy Head, Cady Noland juxtaposes an image associated with freedom in the United States (the cowboy, here grinning, severed, and defaced) with the addictive consumer product he has been used to advertise (a pack of cigarettes, here precariously perched on the tip of the cowboy’s tied bandana). Precisely perforated with gaping holes, the work recalls kitsch Americana but on closer inspection is decidedly dark and unsettling. The silk-screened cowboy is grafted onto a thin but durable metallic support, lending an otherwise disposable advertising image a kind of grudging permanence while picturing the more sinister side of American life.