Ed Kienholz (1927-1994) was an American installation artist closely associated with the so-called beatnik generation. Born to a conservative family of farmers, he did not receive any academic education in art, turning to a variety of professions ranging from an orderly at a psychiatric ward to a used car salesman before launching his artistic career in Los Angeles as part of the Avant-gardist movement of the mid-1950s. Kienholz used everyday objects in his works, and is known for once saying: I really begin to understand any society by going through its junk stores and flea markets. Aside from these, his installations would also incorporate audio, specially designed smells, and live animals. After 1981, he started working collaboratively with Nancy Reddin, his fifth wife, forming an art group collectively referred to as "Kienholz". He died from a sudden heart attack in 1994, and was buried in an authentic Kienholz installation made in his signature style.
German-born artist Gregor Schneider (b.1969) graduated from several German art schools, his first solo show taking place in 1985. 1985 also marked the start of a long-term reconstruction project of his father's house, works continuing up until 2007. Titled Hausur, the project would go on to become one of Schneider's most acclaimed works, sections of the house being exhibited in numerous museums and art galleries, and even awarded the Venetian Biennale's Golden Lion in 2001. The artist has become notorious within the contemporary art scene thanks to a number of controversial pieces, including Black Cube, which is reminiscent of both the Caaba in Mecca and the Malevich Black Square, as well as a yet-unrealized project involving the display of a dying man in order to demonstrate the beauty of death.