Sollie 17

Copied Edward Kienholz, Nancy Reddin Kienholz, Sollie 17, 1979-1980, mixed media construction, 120336168 in. (304.8853.4426.7 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2001.58, © 1980, Nancy Reddin Kienholz

Artwork Details

Sollie 17
Not on view
120336168 in. (304.8853.4426.7 cm)
© 1980, Nancy Reddin Kienholz
Credit Line
Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
Mediums Description
mixed media construction
  • Figure group — male
  • Object — furniture — chair
  • Object — furniture — mirror
  • Architecture Interior — detail — window
  • Architecture Interior — detail — door
  • Object — furniture — chest
  • Object — written matter — book
  • Object — other — sign
  • Object — furniture — bed
  • Object — other — telephone
  • Architecture Interior — domestic — apartment
Object Number

Artwork Description

Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz collected furniture, fixtures, wallpaper, and personal effects from the Pedicord Hotel in Spokane, Washington. They created this installation to convey the isolation and defeat of aging alone in America. An old man in boxer shorts appears in three moments that describe an ordinary day in his life. He peers through the window at a bleak cityscape, plays solitaire on the edge of his bed, and, in a darkly comic touch, reads A Handful of Men with one hand down his shorts. Snapshots in the mirror frame suggest the life he once enjoyed with others. Naked bulbs and straggling wires threaten, as if suggesting how this abandoned human being might die, while ugly stains on the walls, floor, and under the reclining figure suggest that the people who live here are already decomposing. The Kienholzes' installations explore the seamy underside of this country's habitual optimism, reflecting the hardscrabble lives Edward encountered in a series of marginal jobs before he joined San Francisco's "funk art" scene. Sollie 17 offers a voyeuristic glimpse into a life of solitary despair. It elicits sympathy, fear, and questions for a society that leaves its elderly to sit and wait for death.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006