10/24/2011 03:56 am ET Updated Dec 23, 2011

Kienholz Retrospective at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (VIDEO)

The exhibition Kienholz. The Signs of the Times at Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main presents the provocative and polarizing work of Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz. The show starts with early sculptures and installations by Edward Kienholz such as The Blue Wagon (1960), The Carnivore (1962), and The Nativity (1961), and culminates in Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz's spectacular installation The Ozymandias Parade (1985). The Signs of the Times aims to highlighting the essence of Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz's oeuvre.

Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz's work caused a lot of opposition and uproar because of the unvarnished depiction and thematization of sexual power and exploitation, abuse of political power, racism, and institutionalized faith.

The controversy around Edward Kienholz's work Back Seat Dodge '38, which was shown as part of a solo exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1966 is one example of the violent reactions that Kienholz's work caused. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors declared the work that shows two faceless figures having sex in a car "pornographic" and the exhibition was hotly discussed in local newspapers. Another major Kienholz work, Five Car Stud 1969-1972, Revisited is currently on view at the LACMA.


Edward & Nancy Reddin Kienholz: The Ozymandias Parade, 1985.

Edward Kienholz was born in Fairfield, Washington in 1927. He was a self-taught artist and acquired many impressions, insights, and manual skills that would later be decisive for his artistic work from working as a nurse's aid, a used car salesman, a handyman and a proprietor of a bar. In 1954, Edward Kienholz settled in Los Angeles, where he got in contact with the avant-garde art scene, and where he produced his first wooden reliefs and assemblages. He organized exhibitions and opened the NOW Gallery in 1956 and the Ferus Gallery in 1957. He started to create three-dimensional 'tableaux', large-scale installations for which he used found objects and everyday things such as TV sets, car parts, furniture, loudspeakers, and also plaster casts of various family members and friends.

Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz's work was shown in major art institutions around the world, such as LACMA, Los Angeles (1966); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1970); Kunsthaus Zürich (1971), Centre Pompidou, Paris (1977); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1989); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1996); Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney (2005); National Gallery, London (2009). Edward Kienholz participated in Documenta 4 (1968) and Documenta 5 (1972) in Kassel.


Edward Kienholz: The Nativity, 1961.

From 1973 on, Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz alternatively lived in Hope, Idaho, and Berlin. On the occasion of the exhibition The Kienholz Women in Berlin in 1981/82, Edward Kienholz officially declared that all his work produced since 1972 should be retrospectively understood to be co-authored by his wife.

Edward Kienholz died in Hope in 1994. He was buried in a Kienholz installation, his body sitting in the front seat of a 1940 Packard car, together with a dollar, a deck of cards, a bottle of red wine, and the ashes of his dog in the back. Nancy Reddin Kienholz continues taking care of the joint artistic estate, and organizes shows and exhibitions.


Edward Kienholz & Nancy Reddin Kienholz: 76 J.C.s Led the Big Charade, 1993/94.

The exhibition Kienholz. The Signs of the Times runs until January 29, 2012. From February 22 to May 13, 2012, the show will also be on display at the Museum Tinguely in Basel.

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