To Mourn A Dead Horse is a thought-provoking installation art piece by American sculptor Edward Kienholz. He created this work in 1989 and it comprises of an assembly of various materials such as a wooden table, horse’s hoof, cloth, barbed wire, artillery shell, pencil, paint, photograph and polyester resin intermingled with a television showing a disturbing image.
Kienholz developed his style to incorporate Neo-Dadaism with social commentary on moral and ethical issues through his installations. Growing up on a farm in eastern Washington reflecting the struggles that comes along with farming served as the muse for developing artworks that entails morbid themes.
His experience while working as an orderly in a mental hospital heavily influenced “To Mourn A Dead Horse”. The artwork is suggestive of humankind´s potential for cruelty & the capacity for empathy. It invites viewers to engage beyond simply looking at art but rather triggering their imagination towards self-reflection which differentiates it from traditional forms of artwork.
Taking inspiration from actual life events or occurrences shows Kienholz’s personality reflected within all of his pieces particularly “To mourn a dead horse”. By auctioning off this piece in December 2016 at Grisebach shows how significant the masterpiece still resonates with audiences today. Overall Kienholtz highlights dark images portrayed through everyday experiences creating thought-provoking installations successfully transcending time along individual interpretation.