shu and joe

The Illegal Operation

Published on September 11, 2008

Ed Kienholz created his piece, The Illegal Operation, in 1962 as a comment on back-street abortions. Said to be one of the most important post-war sculptures in LA, the tableau was purchased by Kienholz’s friends Monte and Betty Factor soon after the artist had made it. Believing in the meaning and spirit of the piece, they had purchased it from Kienholz for a modest sum, throwing in an old boat and some clothes to sweeten the deal. The sculpture was then kept in a private upstairs dressing room in the couple’s home for the next 40 odd years.

“Many of our friends were not heavily into art, and they thought we were a little nuts anyway,” Factor said. “Few other people went up to our dressing room, but I walked by the piece every time I went to the bathroom. I thought it was the most deeply affecting work of art I had ever seen. It struck very deep into me.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art recently purchased the piece for their permanent collection for $1 million.

via The Los Angeles Times

Filed under: Art, USA
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1 Comment

  1. David says:

    I was childhood friends with Peter Factor, Betty and Monte’s son. I’d be at their home often in the mid-1060s, and remember being fascinated by this piece, and all the other extraordinary art they had throughout the house. I’ve always been incredibly grateful for what the Factors exposed me to as a child, I can remember that house and its contents with great clarity. I also remember Betty’s quiet kindness, and Monte’s always present humor. Tom Factor, Peter’s older brother, took Peter and me to my first rock concert when I was 13 – Jimi Hendrix at the Shrine Auditorium.

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