April 29, 2013

Art of the Day

Sollie 17
Edward Kienholz 

"Kienholz' work during the 1970s and 1980s became more sophisticated and elaborate. In a later example entitled Sollie 17 (1979-1980) Kienholz placed three cast images of the same man within a realistically constructed dilapidated urban dwelling. Clad only in a pair of baggy undershorts, the old man is seen lying on a soiled bed reading a pulp Western. On the right edge of the bed the same man sits. His head - a framed photograph attached to the cast body - is downcast as the lonely man plays a game of cards. Finally the man is seen to the rear gazing out a window which opens onto an urban cityscape. The barrenness of the man's life is echoed in the bare bulb that illuminates this sordid interior from above. This is a powerful image of alienation and the despair of a vacuous life; a life wherein time is not measured by a clock but by the water that drips from a faulty tap. Kienholz reproduced familiar environments by taking discarded objects from everyday life and assembling them in such a way that they took on a renewed significance. With an uncanny eye for detail and arrangement Kienholz orchestrated frozen dramas. By demanding that the viewers take an active part in his play he confronts them with images of themselves and the world around them. Everything suddenly becomes imbued with an allegorical significance and a once familiar world becomes hostile. Kienholz acknowledged that his wife often assisted him in his work. After 1973 Kienholz spent six months of each year in Berlin and the other six months in Hope, Idaho. Kienholz died of a heart attack on June 10, 1994 in Hope, Idaho. His burial was reminiscent of his "tableaux." He was buried in the passenger seat of a 1940 Packard coupe with the ashes of his dog in the back seat and, in the glovebox, a bottle of vintage wine. In 1996, a retrospective of his work was shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York."


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