Installation art and assemblage sculptore Edward Kienholz

Edward Kienholz (October 23, 1927 – June 10, 1994) was an American installation artist and assemblage sculptor whose work was highly critical of aspects of modern life. From 1972 onwards, he assembled much of his artwork in close collaboration with his artistic partner and fifth wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz.
Despite his lack of formal artistic training, Kienholz began to employ his mechanical and carpentry skills in making collage paintings and reliefs assembled from materials salvaged from the alleys and sidewalks of the city.In 1958 he sold his share of the Ferus Gallery to buy a Los Angeles house and studio and to concentrate on his art, creating free-standing, large-scale environmental tableaux. He continued to participate in activities at the Ferus Gallery, mounting a show of his first assemblage works in 1959.
In 1961, Kienholz completed his first large-scale installation, Roxy's, a room-sized environment which he showed at the Ferus Gallery in 1962. Set in the year 1943, Roxy's depicts Kienholz’s memories of his youthful encounters in a Nevada brothel complete with antique furniture, a 30’s era jukebox, vintage sundries, and satirical characters assembled from castoff pieces of junk. This artwork later caused a stir at the documenta 4 exhibition in 1968.A 1966 show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) drew considerable controversy over his assemblage, Back Seat Dodge ‘38 (1964). The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors called it "revolting, pornographic and blasphemous" and threatened to withhold financing for the museum unless the tableau was removed from view. A compromise was reached under which the sculpture's car door would remain closed and guarded, to be opened only on the request of a museum patron who was over 18, and only if no children were present in the gallery. The uproar led to more than 200 people lining up to see the work the day the show opened. Ever since, Back Seat Dodge ’38 has drawn crowds. LACMA did not formally acquire the work until 1986.

 In 1966, Kienholz began to spend summers in Hope, Idaho, while still maintaining studio space in Los Angeles. Also around that time, he produced a series of Concept Tableaux, which consisted of framed text descriptions of artwork that did not yet exist. He would sell these works of early Conceptual Art (though the term was not in widespread use at the time) for a modest sum, giving the buyer the right (upon payment of a larger fee) to have Kienholz actually construct the artwork. He sold a number of Concept Tableaux, but only The State Hospital progressed to a completed artwork.
Kienholz's assemblages of found objects—the detritus of modern existence, often including figures cast from life—are at times vulgar, brutal, and gruesome, confronting the viewer with questions about human existence and the inhumanity of twentieth-century society. Regarding found materials he said, in 1977, "I really begin to understand any society by going through its junk stores and flea markets. It is a form of education and historical orientation for me. I can see the results of ideas in what is thrown away by a culture."

 Kienholz occasionally incorporated defunct or operating radios or televisions into their works, sometimes adding sound and moving images to the overall effect. Live animals were selectively included as crucial elements in some installations, providing motion and sound that contrasted starkly with frozen tableaus of decay and degradation. For example, The Wait, a dismal scene of a lonely skeletal woman surrounded by memories and waiting for death, incorporates a cage with a live parakeet cheerfully chirping and hopping about. The bird is considered an integral part of the installation, but requires special attention to insure that it remains healthy and active, as described in the Whitney Museum's online catalog and video.Another well-known work, The State Hospital, incorporates a pair of black goldfish swimming in each of two glass goldfish bowls representing the head of an inmate suffering with mental illness.Kienholz's work commented savagely on racism, aging, mental illness, sexual stereotypes, poverty, greed, corruption, imperialism, patriotism, religion, alienation, and most of all, moral hypocrisy. Because of their satirical and antiestablishment tones, their works have often been linked to the funk art movement based in San Francisco in the 1960s.Although he was an atheist and despised feigned religiosity, Keinholz carefully preserved an anonymous store window shrine discovered in Spokane, Washington. Calling this found outsider artwork The Jesus Corner, Keinholz exhibited it in a Spokane museum in 1984, and then showed it at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Ten years later, Keinholz insisted on selling it at a reduced price to the Missoula Art Museum in Missoula, Montana, to insure that it would be on view in an environment he felt comfortable with.Wikipedia

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