Portrait of Ed Kienholz
Gift of Kenneth Tyler 2002
Photographer: Malcolm LUBLINER

Ed Kienholz is famous, or indeed infamous, for the sardonic and often explicit installations that he created with his wife and collaborator, Nancy Reddin–Kienholz. Using found objects, the pair assembled confronting scenes that attacked the duplicity of post–war America’s social climate and forced the viewer to question their own moral standards. The scenes are uncompromising in their portrayal of sex, derisive in their treatment of war, and painfully honest in their depiction of human fragility.

A self–taught artist, Kienholz was born in Washington in 1927 and worked extensively in relief sculpture before shifting his focus to large assemblage in the 1960s. He created one such installation in the Gemini GEL car park in 1971. Five car stud depicts a racially motivated attack on a black man discovered drinking with a white woman in his pickup truck by six white men.

The pickup truck purchased for use in the installation had the name ‘Sawdy’ written on the door, and Kienholz used this name in two series of multiples created after the completion of the installation project. A series of car doors, through the window of which the Five car stud tableau can be seen, was created in 1971 and the National Gallery holds one of the edition of 50 doors in its collection. Kienholz also created a series of number plates based on that of the pickup; the work Souvenir licence plate for Sawdy is featured in the Kenneth Tyler Collection.
Emilie Owens


Born, Fairfield, Washington, United States of America

Studies at Washington State College, Pullman; Eastern Washington College of Education, Cheney; Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington

Moves to Los Angeles, California

First solo exhibition, at Café Galleria, Los Angeles

Founder of NOW Gallery, Los Angeles

Co-founder with Walter Hopps of the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles

Resigns from the running of the Ferus Gallery to concentrate on his art Kienholz’s wooden relief constructions evolve into freestanding assemblages

Completes Roxy’s, his first tableau Included in travelling exhibition, The art of assemblage, originating at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Solo exhibition, Roxy’s, at Alexander Iolas Gallery, New York

Solo exhibition, Edward Kienholz, at Los Angeles County Museum of Art; receives F. Blair Prize at 68th American exhibition at Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois

Solo exhibition, Edward Kienholz: work from the 1960s, at Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington DC

Included in exhibitions, Documenta 4, Kassel, West Germany; Dada, Surrealism, and their heritage, at Museum of Modern Art, New York Travels to Europe for first time

Solo exhibition, Edward Kienholz: 11 + 11 tableau, organised by Pontus Hulten at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (travels throughout Europe)

Begins to collaborate with his wife Nancy Reddin Kieholz Completes Number plate (SAWDY23), at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles Solo exhibition at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles; included in exhibition, Documenta 5, Kassel, West Germany

Moves to Hope, Idaho Receives Deutscher Academikischer Ausauschdienst (DAAD) grant for residence in Berlin, West Germany

Receives the Guggenheim Fellowship Grant Begins to spend half the year living and working in Berlin and the other half of the year in Hope

Co-founder with his wife of The Faith and Charity in Hope Gallery, Hope, Idaho Included in Venice biennale, Italy

Solo exhibition at Gemini GEL, Los Angeles

Acknowledges collaboration with his wife in all his subsequent work; included in exhibition, 1981 Biennial Exhibition, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Travelling exhibition, Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz: human scale, originating at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California (travels to Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston and Walker Arts Centre, Minneapolis)

Included in exhibition, Gemini GEL: art and collaboration, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

Included in travelling exhibition, Berlinart: 1961-1987, originating at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Included in travelling exhibition, First impressions: early prints by forty-six contemporary artists, originating at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Edward Kienholz dies, Hope, Idaho

This chronology provides an overview of selected biographical information, major solo and group exhibitions held within the artist's own lifetime.
This chronology builds upon the biographical information published in Kienholz(Gateshead: Baltic, 2005); A retrospective: Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996)
Compiled by Simeran Maxwell, 2007

Further information will be added to this site as the National Gallery proceeds with its research and documentation.

Last updated January 2017