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Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Photo: Blain|Southern.

Nancy Reddin Kienholz (1943–2019)

Multimedia artist Nancy Reddin Kienholz, creative collaborator of her husband Edward Kienholz from 1972 until his death in 1994, has died at seventy-five years old. Reddin Kienholz was born in Los Angeles and met Edward in 1972. They married the same year and began working together soon thereafter, including on The Middle Islands No. 1, 1972, an assemblage installation that probes sexual entrapment and the dissolution of romantic relationships, as well as the installation Five Car Stud, 1969–72, for Documenta 5, curated by Harald Szeemann.

“My life and my art have been enriched and incredibly fulfilled by Nancy’s presence, and I wish to belatedly acknowledge that fact here,” Edward wrote in the catalogue for his 1981 exhibition “The Kienholz Women” at Galerie Maeght, Zurich. “I further feel I no longer have a man’s right to signature only my name to these efforts which have been produced by both of us.”

All works created from 1972 onward were credited as having been coauthored by Nancy and Edward, and their collaborative installations, drawings, and assemblages were “principally about the unnatural hells of the art world, victimized women, and the Nazi propaganda machine,” wrote Carrie Rickey in the Summer 1983 issue of Artforum. “A Kienholz isn’t remarkable only for its examination of external politics, but also for its unflinching assessment of personal politics.”

In the May 2016 issue of the magazine, Jeffrey Kastner wrote: “The work of Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz is by now so deeply ingrained in the contemporary art world’s collective consciousness that it’s easy to forget just how profoundly strange and unrelentingly thorny it is. Riotous, excoriating, and often brutally blunt, the Kienholzes’ oeuvre—comprising everything from scabrous riffs on racism, sexism, and militarism to more subdued takes on loneliness and ennui—remains surprisingly, and lamentably, as relevant to American culture today as it did at the time of its initial conception.”

A retrospective of their work was organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1995, and traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the Berlinische Galerie, Berlin (1996–97). Recent museum exhibitions have been held at the Fondazione Prada (2016–17); Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankurt, and Museum Tinguely, Basel (2011–12); and the Los Angeles Museum County of Art, Los Angeles, and the Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek (2011–12).

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