Current Exhibitions

Edward and Nancy Kienholz: 
A Selection of Works from the Betty and Monte Factor Family Collection 

 

 

The late Ed Kienholz and his deceased wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, the Factor’s one-time neighbors, are celebrated for their installations and sculptural assemblages that are controversial, graphic, and deeply critical of the politics of mid-twentieth century life in Europe and the United States. 

These large-scale, freestanding tableaux environments, built out of materials salvaged from junkyards and alleyways, survey the difficult truths of modern life often overlooked by artistic representation, including illegal abortion, prostitution, racism, and mental illness. In 1973, the couple moved to Berlin and had a deep and longstanding connection to the city, regularly visiting its shops and flea markets to find objects for their thought-provoking installations.

The collection encapsulates both the friendship and patronage between the artist and two of his most steadfast collectors, Betty and Monte Factor. The show provides a glimpse of rarely seen pieces by one of the most important artist duos of the twentieth century, but also an historic record of the Factors’ patronage of early contemporary art in Los Angeles.

Kienholz began his career as a painter amidst the burgeoning Los Angeles art scene of the late 1950s. In 1957, with the curator Walter Hopps, he co-founded the celebrated Ferus Gallery that soon became the city’s epicenter of avant-garde art. He spent the 1960s developing his freestanding sculptural works into increasingly monumental tableaux, which quickly gained international renown. In 1972, he met his wife and collaborator Nancy Reddin, initiating a long and fruitful working relationship that lasted the rest of his life. They established studios in both Berlin and Hope, Idaho — not far from his hometown and close to his friends Betty and Monte Factor. The Factors accumulated the art piece by piece from their artist neighbors.

In direct preparation for their life-sized environments, the Kienholzes made smaller assemblages that echo both the subject matter and structure of the larger installations and exist as equally compelling works on their own. Ed called these ‘drawings’ and, as preliminary studies, they played an integral part in the production of the full-scale works. This exhibition in North Dakota brings together several ‘drawings,’ all related to major works by the Kienholzes. In addition, it presents early paintings — one with moving parts that presages Kienholz’s later three-dimensional endeavors — and an example from an important series of television sculptures from the late 1960s.

In Drawing for Five Car Stud (1969–72), Kienholz reproduces an image of his large-scale installation Five Car Stud, which he places into a car-door window as if the viewer were watching the horrific scene of a black man restrained and castrated by a group of white assailants. This controversial work details a violent episode of racism at the time and continues into the present day making the work as powerful today as it was in the early 1970s. Kienholz explained that the victim has been singled out by the perpetrators for drinking in the company of a white woman. She hides in one of the cars, vomiting. It is perhaps also her position that viewers occupy in Drawing for Five Car Stud.

Other drawings within the North Dakota exhibition correspond to large installations including Barney’s Beanery (1965), in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Still Live (1974), a major work about risk and contingency that was once banned by the German police; and A Portable War Memorial (1968) as well as Drawing for A Portable War Memorial, a work denouncing war and US international policy that is now in the collection of Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The exhibition also includes a major additional work that demonstrate the Kienholzes’ longstanding use of this innovative preparatory drawing practice: the riveting Drawing for the Caddy Court (1986), which serves as an ironic indictment of the US Supreme Court in the years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. 

The Factors’ relationship with the work of Ed Kienholz dates back to their early involvement with liberal politics and, by extension, the Los Angeles art scene. In the 1960s, through art world luminary, Walter Hopps, and the seminal Ferus Gallery, they became staunch supporters of avant-garde contemporary art and lifelong friends of Ed. 

Describing how the Factors became patrons of Ed Kienholz, Monte recalls that in the early 1960s he and his wife scraped together a small amount of cash, as well as some clothes and an old boat, to buy one of the artist’s works. Some years later they purchased The Illegal Operation (1962), a powerful and important piece that was acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2008, but which the Factors had kept stored in a spare room for many years. In Monte’s words: “For thirty-five years we lived in homes and in a world irradiated by the art of Ed, Ed and Nancy, and now, Nancy. For us, Ed and Nancy found nobility, power and grace in the ordinary. They brought new levels of compassion and beauty into our lives.”

Ed Kienholz died in 1994 and Nancy Reddin Kienholz in 2019. 

The Factor collection is on long-term loan to the North Dakota Museum of Art where it extends the collection from a twentieth century era before the Museum began to collect — or even existed. 

 

Edward and Nancy Kienholz, "Drawing for Caddy Court", 1986.
Mixed media, 87 x 87 x 31 inches.

 

Edward and Nancy Kienholz, "Drawing for Still Live", 1974.
Mixed media, 76 x 92 x 33 inches.

 

Edward and Nancy Kienholz, "Drawing for Five Car Stud", 1969.
Mixed media, variable dimensions. Detail view.

 

Edward and Nancy Kienholz, "Still Life with Little Bird", 1974.
Mixed media, 79 x 22 x 24 inches.

 

Edward and Nancy Kienholz, "Television Set", 1967.
Mixed media, 14 x 9 x 13 inches.

 

 

Stuart Klipper:
The World in a Few States

July 18 - September 14, 2021
Reception Sunday, August 22, 2 - 4 pm

 

 

I have made photographs in all 50 states; scoping out the lay of the land and the hand of man -- and whatall may have been wrought in places where each overlay: the fruit of enterprise, and, the sullied tumult. Evidence of the land we’re on and the world we find ourselves in; where we’re at and who we are; what we’ve done; and, where we can go.

This ever-expanding agglomeration of pictures now numbers upwards of 30,000. It was initiated by a three-state corporate art commission in 1980. It is titled, “The World in a Few States” (TWFS).

As indicated the number of States has now, inexorably, burgeoned to the maximum. Nonetheless, the physical/cultural geography and epistemological/ontological double entendre implicit in that (now somewhat understated) title has remained essentially unaltered -- if anything, this admix of concept and observation has become increasingly richer, broader, and perforce, more complex.

At its most elemental TWFS is (as with the work I’ve done in the Antarctic and other distant, remote, and extreme precincts) subsumed by concerns about the nature of Place and placement in Nature. More specifically, it examines and addresses and strives to make some clear and deep sense of the manifold ambient characteristics that define and crystallize the identity of American places -- that plumb, depict, and document the nature and the temper of individual American regions.

At every possible go, I go out and photograph. I certainly cannot say I’ve been everywhere yet, far from it. But, in specific areas I feel confident of not being too far shy of having had been sufficiently sweeping in my wanderings (Minnesota, most and foremost; much of Colorado; all of the Cajun/Creole parishes of Louisiana; a fair share of Iowa; a heaping slice out of the broad midriff of Texas; criss-crosses of California, Arizona, and New Mexico,etc., etc.). Wonderings to boot:  About these places’ nature and workings; their wherewithall and whys and wherefores; their intrinsic aboutness.

The comprehensive compass of such a way of working begs to approximate an encyclopedic asymptote. The number of possible locations to stop and look at is limitless. The vast range of TWFS’s constituent categories of content, and accordioning inventories of subject, bear, I suppose, a spiritual kinship to the infinity of ever-generating pages in Borge’s fabulist libraries, and the recursive involutions of Mandelbroit’s endlessly iterative sets. One path, or variation, can engender any number of others; a single direction, or tangent, can refract into a multi-faceted and diverging spectrum of new, and often unforeseen, options.

-Stuart Klipper

 

 
Stuart Klipper, Grain elevators, Cavalier, Pembina Co., North Dakota, 1988

Stuart Klipper, Road salt, front loader, Searsport, Waldo Co., Maine, 1993

Stuart Klipper, Houses, hwy 2, Ohio Co., West Virginia, 1995


 

 

Barton's Place

 

Barton Lidice Benes lived in a magical apartment in New York City. It was filled with over $1 million in African, Egyptian, South American, Chinese and contemporary art, plus much more as touted in the New York Times when it announced Barton’s intended gift to North Dakota (2/6/05).

Barton Benes and his treasure trove spent decades tucked away in a glorious boxcar space in Westbeth, the artist community in New York’s West Village. There, rare works of art joined ranks with the arcane, the wistful, the amusing, the deeply serious, and a “maddening and morbid array of things” (a human toe found on New York’s Williamsburg Bridge, a stuffed mink wearing a mink coat, an eight-foot giraffe head). This temporary installation suggests the drama and mystery embedded in Barton’s private wonderland. Continue reading...

 

N.D. MUSEUM OF ART RECONSTRUCTS NEW YORK ARTIST’S APARTMENT
 
Radiolab Podcast: As It Happens