I love the works by Edward Kienholz and his wife and partner Nancy Reddin Kienholz, with whom he collaborated from 1972 onwards. Known for epically-scaled assemblages made from discarded everyday objects and life-sized figures, the Kienholzes’ work addresses the darker sides of twentieth-century Western society, confronting issues of religion, politics, war, sex, and death.
One of his best works ever was at the Pace Gallery at the end of 2012 and the gallery describes it “The Ozymandias Parade (1985), an opulent allegory of the abuse of political power, with a parade of figures and symbols representing elements of society. The decadent, nationalistic “ship of fools” is capped with nearly 700 blinking lights, which change with each presentation to reflect the colors of the nation where the work is being displayed. Addressing the corrosive effects of fear and propaganda, the tableau depicts a chaotic world turned upside-down: an armed general rides on the back of a fragile female figure who is lured by the “carrot” of a crucifix; the vice president’s horse has toppled off of his roller skates; the menacing, headless vice president faces backwards, blowing a trumpet and waving the flag; the sinister president clings to the belly of his horse, a red phone clutched in his hand and a yellow rubber ducky on his head. Whether the parade’s president shows a YES or a NO across his face is the result of a poll conducted in the weeks leading up to the installation’s opening, comprised of just one simple question: “Are you satisfied with your government?”
The Ozymandias Parade was originally created for the exhibition No! Contemporary American Dada at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. It has since been shown in a half-dozen countries and now returns to New York for the first time since the Whitney Museum’s retrospective of Kienholz in 1996. This summer’s presentation of the work at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland, was the first time that the answer to the poll has been YES. “ via Pace Press Realease
All works from Kienholz are contorversial and captivating, as you can see they jump hoops from one concept to another always making a great visual impact. You can find their works at many different galleries and museums without going to much trouble in the search.