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Kiki Smith

Born in 1954, in Nuremberg (Germany)

Lives and works in New York (United States)

Since the early 1980s, Kiki Smith’s work has been establishing analogies between various techniques (drawing, sculpture, painting on glass) and living things. It is influenced by fantasy and mediaeval art, and responds with a certain virulence to its time.

Daughter of the actress and opera singer Jane Lawrence and the sculptor Tony Smith, Kiki Smith spent her childhood in New Jersey. Her first approach to art during her teens was alongside her father, helping him make the card models of his sculptures. In 1976, she moved to New York. There, Smith began to make painted objects in wood and plaster, reproducing parts of the human body and objects from everyday life – radios, cameras, cigarette packets.
Smith envisages the body as a vector of knowledge, belief and stories, marked by her catholic education and her feminist beliefs. Many of her pieces from the 1980s are violent and provocative, and relate to the great issues of the day. In the mid-1980s, during the AIDS crisis, her work incorporated body fluids (Game Time with its 12 jars of blood). Excretions, excrement and the humours of the body are represented straightforwardly in sculptures such as Pee Body (1992), Train (1993) and Trail (1992).
Politically engaged, she frequently conceives the female body as a battleground.

Selected Bibliography

Joyce Beckenstein, “Personal curiosity : a conversation with Kiki Smith”, Sculpture, vol. 35, n°2, mars 2016.

Hentschel, Martin ; Seifermann, Ellen. Kiki Smith, her home : [Ausstellung, Museum Haus Esters Krefeld, 16. März - 24. August 2008 ; Kunsthalle Nürnberg 18. September - 16. November 2008]. Bielefeld : Kerber, 2008.

Okiishi, Ken. A fair to meddling story [Published on the occasion of the exhibition Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss : "A fair to meddling story" at Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart, October 17 to November 25, 2007]. Zurich : JRP/Ringier ; New York : Distributed in USA Canada Asia & Australia by DAP/Distributed Art Publishers, 2008.

Engberg, Siri ; Nochlin, Linda ; Tillman, Lynne... [et al.]. Kiki Smith : a gathering, 1980-2005 : [exposition, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, February 26-May 14, 2006 ; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 19, 2005-January 29, 2006 ; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, July 15-September 24, 2006 ; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Novembe 16, 2006-February 11, 2007]. Minneapolis : Walker Art Center, 2005.

***   All materials available at the Documentation Centre of the Fondation   ***

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