Sometimes it is ironic that you have to travel across the world to find out about an artist that was born and raised in your own country, let alone your own state. When we were in Amsterdam in May, Judy Wise, Katie Kendrick and I visited the Stedelijk Museum. Fortunately, we were there when this stunning installation, The Beanery, a three-dimensional collage by Edward Kienholz was open with no one in line but us to view it. I had to go through it twice. It was freaking amazing.
Kienholz was described as an american installation artist and assemblage sculptor. This installation is considered to be his greatest work and one of the most important installations in the 20th century.
Beanery is defined as a cheap, usually inferior restaurant, and this one is modeled after the Barney's Beanery, a bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. It was a famous hangout for artists, including the Kienholzes. Created in 1965, it first exhibited in the parking lot of the bar. Modeled at two-thirds the size of the original Beanery, it features the smells and sounds of the bar and models of customers, all of whom have clocks for faces with the time set at 10:10. Only the model of Barney, the owner, has a real face.
Kienholz is quoted as saying, "The entire work symbolizes the switch from real time (symbolized by a newspaper) to the surrealist time inside the bar, where people waste time, kill time, forget time and ignore time.
Wherever he could, Kienholz used authentic objects from the bar, some of which - like the newspaper, wall plaques and buttons - offer a critical commentary on society at the time. Even the sound is real, recorded by the artist himself in the bar. It was fascinating to see. You didn't know where to look. There was so much to absorb, every detail thoughtfully created. I could have walked through 10 more times and not seen everything.
Kienholz was born in Fairfield, WA in 1927 and died in Sandpoint, Idaho in 1994. He and his wife Nancy Reddin Kienholz, worked together collecting artifacts and materials for their collaborations. It is interesting how her name is not listed on the installation in the Beanery.
Here is a video that describes some of the restoration work made by the museum a few years ago.
Another great work, Sollie17, depicting the loneliness of an aging man, is located at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in the Renwick Gallery. Here is an article from a Spokane paper that describes the inspiration behind creating Sollie 17.
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to see the Beanery and the next time I am visiting my friend, Dianne in DC, I'm going to see Sollie 17.