Edward Kienholz

The Wait

Not on view



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

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

Accession number

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

Rights and reproductions
© Nancy Reddin Kienholz


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.