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Edward Kienholz

American
(1927–1994)

Lady
1960

Assemblage of wood, plaster cast, and paint
14.25 x 20.875 x 8 in.
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
1999.14

Born in rural Washington in 1927, Edward Kienholz began learning carpentry, auto mechanics and metalwork as he grew up working on his family farm. A man of many trades, Kienholz worked a variety of jobs while attending Washington College of Education and Whitworth College, never completing a degree. Discarding a future of farm work and higher education, Kienholz began to independently study painting, resulting in his move to Los Angeles in 1953. In Los Angeles, Kienholz began exploring and producing large wooden reliefs composed of found objects and industrial waste.

Focusing on contemporary issues of objectification in race, abuse and sexual stereotypes, Kienholz created pieces that captured the darkest of the human condition and collateral damage of human action, embodying the broken, cast aside figures left behind. Combing elements of abstract expressionism, surrealism and assemblage, Kienholz’s affecting installations were described by art critic, Brian Sewell, as “grim, gritty, sordid and depressing [in visual imagery] and vocabulary.”

With Lady, Kienholz presents what appears to be a worn and discarded cast, thereby reversing the way in which female anatomy is usually depicted in art.


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