Kent State, 1970

Richard Hamilton; Publisher: Dorothea Leonhart, Munich

Color screenprint and photoscreenprint

Gift of Miss Eileen Bigelow and Mrs. O.H. Ingram, by exchange P.71.155

Not on View

Based on a photograph Hamilton made from a televised BBC news broadcast, Kent State captures one of the defining moments of the American student anti-war movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Though distorted, the image shows Kent State University freshman Dean Kahler lying seriously wounded after being shot by one or more Ohio Army National Guard soldiers during a May 4, 1970 campus demonstration protesting the American invasion of Cambodia. Kahler, who was not participating in the march, was left permanently paralyzed from the chest down. In all, four students were killed and nine injured by guardsmen firing on the unarmed demonstrators.

The tragic events of that day sparked massive anti-war marches in Washington, D.C. and a nationwide protest strike by some four million college students. National and international outrage over the shootings continued for months and helped turn public opinion against continued American involvement in the Vietnam War. About the image, Hamilton stated: "It was too terrible an incident in American history to submit to arty treatment. Yet there it was in my hand, by chance. It seemed right, too, that art could help to keep the shame in our minds."

Image: In Copyright. Gift of Miss Eileen Bigelow and Mrs. O.H. Ingram, by exchange

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