Edward Kienholz & Nancy Reddin

Edward Kienholz (Fairfield, United States, 1927 - Hope, United States, 1994) was one of the pioneers of the assemblage and installation movement that began in the late 1950s, and is known for his works that are highly critical of American society. In 1957, along with Walter Hopps, he founded the Ferus gallery in Los Angeles, one of the key centres for avant-garde art on the American West Coast. Kienholz’s art consists of assemblages and large installations, which he himself defines as tableaux. These complex structures, which take the form of entire environments, often present atrocious and violent representations of crimes committed by the American society. Roxys (1961), for example, is a representation in real scale of a 1940s brothel in Las Vegas, inhabited by sculptures that evoke women-objects who bear traces of violence.

For close to twenty-five years, Edward Kienholz produced art in collaboration with his wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz (Los Angeles, United States, 1943 - Houston, United States, 2019). The work presented here, Soldier X, is one of the most important from their series of works denouncing American militarism. This piece, which consists of a battered soldier’s helmet mounted on the end of an old rusted shovel, evokes the emaciated and tortured body of a soldier who has fallen in combat – a violent denunciation of American militarism and of armed conflict and wars.