Edward Kienholz, The Illegal Operation, 1962
Last week we installed Ed Kienholz's sculpture, The Illegal Operation, which was purchased in October as a result of a hugely gratifying community-wide fundraising effort. The Illegal Operation, a commentary on back-street abortion, was just featured in a major L.A. art exhibition in Stockholm, and I was eager to put the much-discussed recent acquisition on view as soon as it returned.
Installing The Illegal Operation also gave us the opportunity to feature two other early Kienholz sculptures, A Lady Named Zoa (below right) and History as a Planter (left), that hadn't been on view for some time. Together, they represent a sampling of our remarkable Kienholz holdings, which include more than twenty objects, one being the iconic Back Seat Dodge '38.
On a personal level, it is thrilling to finally be able to show this work that I first encountered in L.A. decades ago. When I first saw The Illegal Operation in the home of the collectors who bought it from Kienholz, I was stunned. I hadn't seen anything quite like it before. It has haunted me for thirty years.
Stephanie Barron, Senior Curator, Modern Art