new-york

Edward Kienholz

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

“Marvelously vulgar artist. Marvelously vulgar. I like that work.” This assessment of Edward Kienholz, conveyed to the artist’s close friend and longtime business partner Walter Hopps, came courtesy of Marcel Duchamp, who—as Hopps recounted in a catalogue essay for the 1996 Kienholz retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art—“leaned back, laughed and laughed, and slapped his hands on the table” as he delivered the verdict. Duchamp had recently seen Kienholz’s 1963 New York debut at Alexander Iolas’s gallery, the centerpiece of which was Roxys, 1960–61. The work—whose situational point of departure was an Idaho brothel Kienholz had visited as a young man—was the artist’s first fully realized “tableau” (a word he coined for it) and signaled his transition from discrete, freestanding Surrealist assemblage to the mode of immersive, artifactually heterogeneous installation that he in

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