Kienholz, Edward

Kienholz, Edward

(kēn`hóltz), 1927–94, American sculptor, b. Fairfield, Wash. He moved to Los Angeles in 1953 and was a painter until the late 1950s, when he began to create sculptural reliefs of wood, found objects, and industrial paint. In 1957, with artist Walter Hopps, he established the Ferus Gallery, which exhibited West Coast avant-garde artists. In the early 1960s he begin producing the large, elaborate three-dimensional constructions for which he is known, using materials drawn from everyday life and often focusing on disturbing subjects. The Illegal Operation (1962), made of a shopping cart, medical equipment, and other objects, clearly refers to an illegal abortion; other works focus on sexual and child abuse, sexism, and racism. His best-known construction is probably Roxy's (1961, Los Angeles County Mus. of Art [LACMA]), depicting a 1943 bordello. The Back Seat Dodge '38 (1964, LACMA) is a car with a sexually involved couple inside, and The Beanery (1965, Stedelijk Mus., Amsterdam), a view of a run-down saloon. His works were often controversial, and sometimes denounced as disgusting or pornographic. His fifth wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz, 1943–2019, b. Los Angeles, was a originally a photographer; they married in 1973. She became his collaborator, and his works from 1972 are credited to both. Their installations include The Hoerengracht (1988), which recreates Amsterdam's red-light district, and The Caddy Court (1991), focused on sexual violence.

Bibliography

See M. Tuchman, Edward Kienholz (1966), R. L. Pincus, On a Scale That Competes with the World (1990), W. Hopps et al., Kienholz: A Retrospective (exhibition catalog, 1996), and M. Hollein et al., Kienholz: Signs of the Time (2012).

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Kienholz, Edward

(1927–  ) sculptor; born in Fairfield, Wash. A self-taught artist, he studied at Whitworth College, Spokane (1945–52), moved to Los Angeles (1953–73), then divided his time between Berlin, Germany, and Hope, Ida. He worked with wooden relief painting (1950s), then created assemblage constructions using found objects, as in the mixed media sculpture, The State Hospital (1966).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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