Ed Kienholz - Short Biography


Born in 1927 at Fairfield, Washington. He studied at Eastern Washington College of Education and, briefly, at Whitworth College, Spokane, but did not receive any formal artistic training. He earned his living as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, as the manager of a dance band, as a dealer in secondary cars, a caterer, decorator and vacuum cleaner salesman. In 1953 he moved to Los Angeles.

In 1954 he made his first reliefs in wood. In 1956 he founded the NOW Gallery, and in 1957 the Ferus Gallery with Walter Hopps. In 1961 he completed his first environment Roxy's, which caused a stir at the documenta "4" exhibition in 1968. His retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1966 provoked the County Board of Supervision to attempt to close the exhibition. The theme of his environments is the vulnerability of the private life of the individual to intervention by the environment and social convention.

In 1972 he met Nancy Reddin in Los Angeles. In 1973 he was guest artist of the German Academmic Exchange Service in Berlin. He moved to Berlin with his wife Nancy. His most important works during this period were the Volksempfänger (radio receiving apparatus from the National Socialist period in Germany). Since then he has lived in Berlin and Hope, Idaho, spending six months of the year in each. In 1975 he received a Guggenheim Award.

In 1977 he opened The Faith and Charity in Hope Gallery with his wife. Since the exhibition Die Kienholz-Frauen at the Galerie Maeght in Zurich, 1981, he has authorized his work with his wife, Nancy Kienholz.