L.A. Louver is pleased to present four historical works by Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Created between 1970-1987, each is a timeless and relevant cogitation on the realities of war and its implicit repercussions.
The Non War Memorial (1970) is the earliest work included, and was initially conceived as a Concept Tableau that never fully materialized. Provoked by the senseless casualties of the Vietnam War, Ed Kienholz envisioned a “war memorial” that would consist of 50,000 surplus uniforms filled with dirt to resemble corpses, placed arbitrarily across a 75-acre meadow near Clark Fort, Idaho. With the passage of time, the uniforms would break down and dissipate. Eventually, wildflowers would emerge, and the land would return to its original splendor. Kienholz created a limited edition of this potent concept, with a book containing 50,000 photographs of dirt-filled uniforms, displayed on a pedestal, around which five dirt-filled uniforms lay lifeless at its base.
During their initial years of marriage and artistic partnership, which began in 1972, Ed Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz established studios in West Berlin, Germany and Hope, Idaho. While in Berlin, the couple frequented the flea markets to familiarize themselves with their new adopted home. “I really begin to understand any society by going through its junk stores and flea markets. It is a form of education and historical orientation for me,” explained Ed. “I can see the results of ideas in what is thrown away by a culture.”
At the flea markets, they were fascinated to discover World War II ephemera that evidenced traces of the Nazi regime. In their work, The Jungen (1977), the couple gathered abandoned photography from this era to reimagine the life of a Nazi soldier. The assemblage consists of five galvanized metal wall panels, sparsely adorned with photographs and objects to resemble shrines or grave markers. The series of images depict a handsome, young cadet; a grinning encampment of soldiers; a marriage; a family portrait with children; and ultimately, a grave marker. The work imbues a sense of humanity and empathy for the men who dedicated their vigor and willingness to serve their state, and confronts the solicitation of youth to carry out orders at the behest of command and ideology.
Still Dead End Dead I and Still Dead End Dead 2 (1987) are two unique assemblage works that also deal with the concept of war. On darkly colored panels are affixed detritus, baby doll heads, a shovel, a soldier’s helmet, cookie cutter crosses and painterly references to the American flag. The abstract juxtapositions of objects and materials poignantly and forthrightly describe the ultimate and inevitable outcome of the “solution” of war.
Edward Kienholz (1927-1994) and Nancy Reddin Kienholz (b. 1943) have been the subject of numerous international exhibitions throughout their artistic partnership. Their work can be found in public collections worldwide. Select institutions include Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Museum Ludwig, Koln, Germany; Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Francois Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.