Political Art, Galloping Out of the Past

Nov 20, 2012 10:15PM

by Thomas Micchelli

The Ozymandias Parade” by Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz has landed in the Pace Gallery like a DIY UFO — a frenzied agitprop vessel clattering into the 21st century from the Reagan era’s heart of darkness.

Edward Kienholz (1927–1994) was an American maverick when that term still had meaning. Untrained as an artist and unperturbed by the rage for purity of the post-AbEx New York scene (having moved to Los Angeles from Washington State in his mid-twenties), he developed a private vision of hell that zigzagged among the seamier strains of Surrealism, Dada, Outsider and Folk. His wife, Nancy Reddin Kienholz (b. 1943), became his collaborator in 1972, and afterward they were known collectively as Kienholz.

With “The Ozymandias Parade,” Kienholz has set forth a monstrousness of a different sort. Unlike their better-known works — sculptural assemblages and claustrophobic tableaus steeped in shadow, grime and rot, and obsessed with death and sex, sex and death — “Ozymandias” is big, bright and shiny, festooned with 687 blinking red, white and blue lights around a mirrored platform, upon which a full-size carousel horse rears on its hind legs while another collapses, decapitated, to the floor. READ MORE