b. 1955, USA

Karen Kilimnik Biography

Karen Kilimnik draws parallel references between historic works from the 16th century and contemporary consumer culture. She unearths romantic traditions, creating imaginative paintings, drawings, photographs and installations that span interests as diverse as animals, childhood, ballet, fashion, witchcraft, famous films, literature, landscape and dreams.

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Early Years

Kilimnik is known to be a recluse. Instead of manoeuvring the social pressures that come with life in a large city, she chooses to remain in her hometown of Philadelphia, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1984 at Temple University.

Artworks

While Kilimnik works across a variety of media, her style does not remain singular. Through photography she is known to explore the natural world, focusing on landscapes and animals. Her traditional oil paintings, on the other hand, reflect her interest in the past. These paintings are often assemblages of loose brushstrokes and feature uncanny portraits of iconic figures, cut out from a scene in a film or appropriated from a famous painting.

Kilimnik is also known to produce oil landscape paintings or set-ups of architectural interiors such as Leonardo Da Vinci's Living Room, Amboise 1500 (2014). A mise-en-scène approach is used in her assemblage sculpture as well, where she brings seemingly random items from popular culture together in one space. These installations often mimic stately homes or palatial architecture. Part of the 1990s 'scatter movement', the pieces of detritus included in these installations—photocopies, pieces of fabric, drawings, furniture and mirrors—brought Kilimnik fame in the 1980s and 1990s.

Kilimnik's work is known for its whimsical approach. However, this approach is mixed with sharp and relevant themes including feminism, psychology and identity. Blurring glamour and kitsch, and bordering on the unsettling, Kilimnik's works have been the subject of numerous solo shows in countries such as France and Ireland, and cities such as Philadelphia, Zurich, London and New York.

Jessica Douglas | Ocula | 2017

Exhibition view: Karen Kilimnik, The Kingdom of the Renaissance, Sprüth Magers, New York (20 January–18 March 2023). Courtesy Sprüth Magers. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.

Karen Kilimnik Featured Artworks

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dinner in the alley by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork
Karen Kilimnik dinner in the alley, 2010 Water soluble oil colour on canvas
35.6 x 45.7 x 1.9 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
the floral Kingdom of the Renaissance by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork
Karen Kilimnik the floral Kingdom of the Renaissance, 2016 Water soluble oil colour and glitter on canvas
61 x 50.8 x 2.2 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
Boodles Club, London by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork works on paper
Karen Kilimnik Boodles Club, London, 2020 Acrylic and china marker on paper
22.5 x 28.5 inches
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
the english countryside - view to the southwest - the moors by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork painting
Karen Kilimnik the english countryside - view to the southwest - the moors, 2003 Water soluble oil colour on canvas
40.5 x 50.5 x 4 cm
Not for sale
Galerie Eva Presenhuber
medusa by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork works on paper
Karen Kilimnik medusa, 1985 Pastel on paper
44.5 x 59 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
the sequined airport, Heathrow, England by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork photography
Karen Kilimnik the sequined airport, Heathrow, England, 2013 C-Print
68.6 x 91.4 cm
Galerie Eva Presenhuber Contact Gallery
Cinderella at Rapunzel's castle in her snowy cloud outfit by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork painting
Karen Kilimnik Cinderella at Rapunzel's castle in her snowy cloud outfit, 2009 Water soluble oil colour on canvas
61 x 40.6 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire
tiny leaping for joy by Karen Kilimnik contemporary artwork painting
Karen Kilimnik tiny leaping for joy, 2013 Water soluble oil colour on canvas
51.5 x 61.5 cm
Sprüth Magers Enquire

Karen Kilimnik Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (13)

Karen Kilimnik Represented By

Galerie Eva Presenhuber contemporary art gallery in Maag Areal, Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
Galerie Eva Presenhuber New York, Vienna, Zurich
Sprüth Magers contemporary art gallery in Berlin, Germany
Sprüth Magers Berlin, London, Los Angeles, New York
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