Edward Kienholz – The Beanery: A story about time

Imagine going into a bar. As you're passing a newspaper rack, you catch a glimpse of a title about an impending war. Inside, however, everything seems to be in order. The smell is familiar, the noise is familiar, but glancing at guests, you notice something peculiar: they have clocks instead of heads!

 
Edward Kienholz - The Beanery
 

This is how you experience "The Beanery" by Edward Kienholz when seeing it for the first time.

"The Beanery" is my favorite piece of art I've seen so far and it is a part of the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Losing time, waisting time – the heads of people in the pub always shows 10:10

Losing time, waisting time – the heads of people in the pub always shows 10:10

Edward Kienholz was an American sculptor and installation artist. Although not professionally trained, in his early life he practiced various crafts (e.g. carpentry) which later helped him create his distinctive style. His works are often associated with the Beat movement, but some authors find it similar to the European version of pop-art.

His installations are grim, often composed of things he would find in junkyards or at flea markets. Incorporating traces (and trash) of consumerism, his works were mainly a critique of the society.

The misspelled sign "Faggots stay out" is a replica of a controversial object that used to be displayed at the original "Beanery". Read more about it.

The misspelled sign "Faggots stay out" is a replica of a controversial object that used to be displayed at the original "Beanery". Read more about it.

"The Beanery" is a reconstruction of a real pub. The piece was made in 1965. It's a walk-in installation and although it's three times smaller than the real pub at that time, its interior is an exact replica of the original.

The interior of "The Beanery" was reconstructed object by object.

The interior of "The Beanery" was reconstructed object by object.

The piece is about time – objective and subjective time, losing time and killing time. Next to the door of "The Beanery", a visitor is greeted by a copy of "Herald Examiner" from 1964 and the title on its front page reading "Children Kill Children in Viet Nam Riots". However, the heads of people inside of it always show 10:10.

The guests are caught in different stages of private interactions, and the atmosphere of the pub is also presented through smell (the mixture of scents is regularly made mostly according to the original recipe) and an audio recording (now digitalized) that Kienholz has made inside of the original "Beanery".

The human clocks inside of Kienholz's installation are caught in the middle of interactions.

The human clocks inside of Kienholz's installation are caught in the middle of interactions.

In the meantime – the time kicked in, so certain parts of the installation have already deteriorated. But inside of it, time is standing still.

The owner of The Beanery