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Edward Kienholz

(United States, 1927-1994)
80 000 - 100 000 SEK
7 150 - 8 940 EUR
7 580 - 9 480 USD
Hammer price
65 000 SEK
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Edward Kienholz
(United States, 1927-1994)


Signed Keinholz on label. Also signed EK and dated -72 on license plate. Executed in 1971 - 1972. Ed 12/55. Object in two parts, painted car door, fluorescent bulb with electrical socket and license plate. Height 100, width 94 and depth 18 cm. The artist's book about the projetcs 'Five Car Stud' and 'Sawdy', as well as a signed and dated certificate by the artist and Gemini G.E.L. included.


Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles.
Private collection, Sweden.
Bukowski Auktioner AB, Stockholm, auction 573, Vårens Contemporary, 14 May 2013, lot. no 488.
Private Collection, Stockholm.

More information

To put it bluntly, you could say that Americans see the world through a car window. Nowhere else in the world is the population so dependent on cars. Think about how much literature and movies are set from this perspective.
Edward Kienholz (1927 - 1994) is one of the foremost post-war interpreters of America, its lifestyle and its spiritual and moral shortcomings. For those of us who have visited Moderna Museet's collections, his "The State Hospital" from 1966 is an unforgettable experience. The work consists of many different parts - a precursor to the art form of installations. A room and a container, with a window that you first have to climb a small landing to look into. Inside is a hospital bed with a figure lying with an aquarium with a fish instead of a cranium. It's an extremely telling and moving cinematic depiction of modern mental health care, rivaled only by Milos Forman's acclaimed film 'The Cuckoo's Nest', released three years later. Both the film and the museum's work are eye-openers and an intrusive confrontation with the society we would rather forget and hide, wash away. One parameter of 'The State Hospital' is the antiseptic hospital smell that surrounds the work.

Like the aforementioned artwork, the viewer is very much part of the drama in 'Sawdy'. Roll down the window and you are met with a scenario taken from another major installation, Kienholz's magnum opus, 'Five Car Stud' (1969 - 1972), which was never shown in its entirety in the United States, but at Documenta 5 in Kassel in 1972.
The installation presents a group of white men in the process of castrating a black man while his girlfriend looks on. The figures are, as always in Kienholz's art, life-size, and wear masks. The scene is illuminated by the headlights of four cars and a pickup truck. On the victim's chest are the painted letters N-I-G-G-E-R. Uncompromising and ruthlessly told: at once a realistic crime scene, a nasty movie and a painting by Francisco da Goya.

This disturbing installation was too controversial to be shown in the United States at the time of its creation, just four years after the assassination of Martin Luther King and after horrific racial incidents that strongly resembled the scene in question. It wasn't until 2011 that the work was restored (after years of rotting in a warehouse in Japan) to be shown for the first time in the US at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Kienholz himself understood the explosive power of his great work and chose to spread the message by creating this work, 'Sawdy'.

Edward Kienholz's anger, absence of irony, and precision of expression make his art something rare: a living, self-examining document of the times with a searing freshness that asks poignant questions about highly topical issues, and 'Sawdy' contains all of this and thus joins the ranks of artworks that seriously mark their time.

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