Edward and Nancy Kienholz

American (born 1927)

Edward Kienholz (1927-1994) spent his youth on a farm in eastern Washington and moved to Los Angeles in 1953. Although he had no formal artistic training, he had been painting and constructing reliefs for several years. Through the mid-1950's, Kienholz' work became more exclusively relief-oriented, incorporating material salvaged from throughout Los Angeles. In 1958 he began working outdoors to accommodate his freestanding sculptures made of found debris. By 1960 he had begun constructing the large tableaux for which he is best known. From the early 1970s until his death, Edward Kienholz often collaborated with his wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz, whom he met in Los Angeles in 1972.

The work of Edward and Nancy Kienholz has been widely acclaimed, particularly in Europe. In 1973 Edward Kienholz was guest artist of the German Academic Exchange Service in Berlin, and in 1976 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1977 he and Nancy Reddin opened "The Faith and Charity" in Hope Gallery. From the time of the exhibition Die Kienholz-Frauen at the Galerie Maeght in Zurich, 1981, his work was co-authorized with his wife.

Kienholz' work confronts the hypocrisy and immorality he sees in politics and social history.
Autobiographical undertones enter as well. Each tableaux ultimately presents the thoughtful viewer with a problem of personal as well as societal politics: the moral ambiguity of voyeurism, the dichotomy of physical presence and psychological detachment in sexual love, responsibility towards one's fellow man, and the mundane, desensitized portrayal by the media of man's inhumanity to man.

Kienholz' collaborations with Gemini on sculpture editions and unique pieces date from 1971.
Kienholz' place in twentieth-century art history is augmented by his role in founding two of the earliest avant-garde galleries in Los Angeles – the Now Gallery (1956-57) and the Ferus Gallery (1957-59). Edward and Nancy Kienholz moved from Los Angeles to Hope, Idaho, in 1973; they split their time between Idaho and Berlin until Edward's death in 1994. Edward Kienholz' first museum show was at the Pasadena Art Museum (1961). Exhibitions of his tableaux have also taken place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1966); the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1970); the Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (1970); the Kunsthaus, Zurich (1971); and the Nationalgalerie, Berlin (1977).