October 28, 2011 - Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt - Kienholz. The Signs of The Times
October 28, 2011

Kienholz. The Signs of The Times

Edward Kienholz & Nancy Reddin Kienholz, “The Ozymandias Parade,” 1985.
Installation view.

Kienholz
The Signs of The Times

October 22, 2011–January 29, 2012

Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Römerberg
D-60311 Frankfurt
Opening Hours:
Tue, Fri–Sun 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
Wed and Thur 10 a.m.–10 p.m.

welcome [​at​] schirn.de
T (+49-69) 29 98 82-0
F (+49-69) 29 98 82-240.

www.schirn.de

Rebellious, provocative, and polarizing, the oeuvre associated with the name Kienholz has always caused quite a stir since its beginnings in the mid-1950s, first the works by Edward Kienholz (1927–1994) alone, then later, from 1972 on, the collaborative projects with his wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Dealing with such subjects as the sexual exploitation of women in prostitution, the role of the media, and the effects of ethnic conflicts, the works pinpoint fractures of Western societies which have hardly been remedied to this day and thus lend the oeuvre its unmitigated topicality. But this contemporaneity is not due solely to the themes dealt with; today we view the works as anticipating central trends in contemporary art like those we find ourselves confronted with in Paul McCarthy’s and Mike Kelley’s pieces, for example, but also in the production of Jonathan Meese, Thomas Hirschhorn, or John Bock. The exhibition at the Schirn, spanning from the first three-dimensional smaller works to the conceptual pieces and room-filling tableaux, offers a complex survey highlighting the essence of Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz’s achievements.

Edward Kienholz was born in Fairfield, Washington on October 23, 1927 and died in Hope, Idaho in 1994. On the occasion of the exhibition “The Kienholz Women” in Berlin in 1981/82, Edward Kienholz publicly declared his wife’s co-authorship concerning all his works produced since 1972, the year of their first encounter. Edward Kienholz studied at several colleges, yet never attended an art academy. Doing odd jobs such as working as a nurse’s aid, a used car salesman, a handyman, and proprietor of a bar he got to know various milieus, collecting impressions and insights that he would draw on in later years. From 1973 on, Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz alternately lived in Hope, an out-of-the way place in Idaho, and Berlin, where they maintained a lively exchange with the German art world.

In 1953, Edward Kienholz had taken up residence in Los Angeles, where he produced his first wooden reliefs and small-format assemblages of materials from 1954 on. Two years later he organized exhibitions in Los Angeles before he opened the Ferus Gallery together with Walter Hopps in 1957. Soon after, his works developed into three-dimensional “tableaux”—room-spanning environments and installations. The material he used was mainly comprised of everyday things and found objects he had come upon at flea markets he rummaged through, garbage from the scrapyards and dumps of Western consumer culture—TV sets, car parts, loudspeakers, pieces of furniture, goldfish bowls, shoes, signs, flags, promotional articles, cigarettes, toy soldiers, dollar banknotes, and—last, but not least—plaster casts of various family members and people belonging to his circle of friends.

A great many works make it their concern that everybody should be granted a fair share in the American dream. Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz’s “Claude Nigger Claude” from 1988 focuses on everyday racism, “The Potlatch” from 1988 explores the substitution and destruction of the indigenous population’s social and cultural identity. Other works deal with sexual power and exploitation. The artists confront the utopia of liberated sexuality with the commodified sexuality of the brothel. Works such as “The Pool Hall” from 1993, “The Rhinestone Beaver Peepshow Triptych,” or “The Bronze Pinball Machine with Woman Affixed Also,” both from 1980, mirror commercialized sex and advertising images of utmost banality, which have deeply embedded themselves in the society’s subconscious.

The highlight of the show to be found at its end is the spectacular installation “The Ozymandias Parade” with 687 blinking light bulbs in Germany’s national colors (the colors are adapted to the respective venue of presentation). A decadent parade on a ship of fools in form of a reflecting arrow features as a symbol of the abuse of political power.

DIRECTOR: Max Hollein. CURATOR: Martina Weinhart (Schirn). PRESS CONTACT: Dorothea Apovnik (head Press/Public Relations), Markus Farr (press spokesman), phone: (+49-69) 29 98 82-148, fax: (+49-69) 29 98 82-240, e-mail: presse@schirn.de, www.schirn.de, (texts, images, and films for download under PRESS).

*Image above:
Wood, plastic, mirrored Plexiglas, fiberglass horses, light bulbs, recorded music, paint, clothing, plaster casts, rubber, metal, galvanized sheet metal, polyester resin, wagon, wooden barrel, suitcases, fake money, telephone, miniature flags, toys
373 x 887 x 457 cm
Collection of the artist, Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA
© Kienholz
Photography: Werner J. Hannappel, © Kienholz, Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA

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