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Artist

Edward Kienholz (1927-1994)

Title

The Wait

Date

1964-65

Medium

Tableau: wood, fabric, polyester resin, flock, metal, bones, glass, paper, leather, varnish, gelatin silver prints, taxidermed cat, live parakeet, wicker and plastic

Dimensions

Overall: 80 × 160 × 84 in. (203.2 × 406.4 × 213.4 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc.

Accession number

66.49a-k

Object Label

The Wait illuminates the poignancy of passing time and the sorrowful isolation of the elderly in a life-size domestic tableau. The figure of an old woman, constructed of cow bones and encased in plastic coating, clutches a taxidermied cat and sits beneath a framed portrait of a young man who was presumably her beloved. In place of her face is a glass jar with a photograph of a young, attractive woman on the front and a cow skull set inside. She wears a necklace of glass canning jars containing crosses and gold figurines that represent her memories as imagined by the artist: “her childhood on a farm and move on to girlhood, waiting for her man, marriage, bearing children, being loved, wars, family, death and then senility, where everything becomes a hodgepodge.” She awaits her imminent death to the song of a live parakeet in a nearby cage, a disparity that renders the melancholy of the woman’s situation all the more evident.

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