Collecting Our Thoughts: Kienholz: The Politician With Contradictum Affixed, Also

Beaverbrook Art GalleryNovember 28, 20160 Comments

Since the 1950s, Edward Kienholz (American, 1927-1994) has made challenging, provocative works that analyze, comment upon and critique contemporary culture. Since 1972 he has worked as a collaborative unit with his spouse Nancy Reddin Kienholz (American, b. 1943).  The Politician with Contradictum Affixed, Also, 1987 is an ideal example of the aesthetic characteristics and contentious acerbic commentaries for which their career has commanded international attention.

The sculpture sports a skull, a horn that is carved and painted as a jester’s cap, USA stars and stripes, and a newsfeed tape spewing from the skull’s mouth. The documented news commentary contrasts the gravity of world calamities interspersed with the inanities of commercial messages promoting remedies to dubious medical maladies. Ostensibly, the piece depicts a politician’s ‘legislative seat’ and their propensity to ‘run-off at the mouth’ issuing filibuster platitudinous patriotic pronouncements.  As with the best of the work of the Kienholz’ this work embodies their disdain for the hypocrisy of the political power system by lampooning them as a ghastly skeleton built from nasty, rather odious decrepit collaged components. It is one of the most direct and vitriolic disavowals of an emblem of democracy; a system they view as evil, sinister and doomed.


Collecting our thoughts is an occasional series of short reflections on works in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s permanent collection. We want to share some of the treasures we have in the building (and on display) with our guests and members of our community, and tell you a little about why we think they’re special – and hopefully you’ll agree!

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