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b. 1954, Germany

Kiki Smith Biography

Kiki Smith’s practice addresses the philosophical, social and spiritual aspects of human nature. By manipulating everyday materials such as glass, ceramic, fabric and paper, Smith’s work examines the dichotomy between the psychological and physiological power of the body.

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As a young girl, one of Smith’s first experiences with art was helping her father–American sculptor Tony Smith–make cardboard models for his geometric sculptures. This training in formalist systems, combined with her upbringing in the Catholic Church, would later resurface in Smith’s evocative sculptures, drawings, and prints. The recurrent subject matter in Smith’s work has been the body as a receptacle for knowledge, belief, and storytelling.

In the 1980s, Smith literally turned the figurative tradition in sculpture inside out, creating objects and drawings based on organs, cellular forms, and the human nervous system. This body of work evolved to incorporate animals, domestic objects, and narrative tropes from classical mythology and folk tales. Life, death, and resurrection are thematic signposts in many of Smith’s installations and sculptures.

In 2003, The Museum of Modern Art, New York exhibited a survey of Smith’s printed art, Kiki Smith: Prints, Books & Things. In 2005, Smith’s retrospective A Gathering: 1980-2005 was held at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and toured to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and La Colección Jumex, Mexico City. The same year, to coincide with the 2005 Venice Biennale, Smith exhibited Homespun Tales at the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice.

In 2008, Smith produced Her Home, a site-specific installation in collaboration with Museum Haus Esters, the Kunstmuseen Krefeld, which then toured to the Kunsthalle Nürnburg and the Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona.

Smith was the 2009 recipient of the 50th Edward MacDowell Medal, as well as the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture and the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2005 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York. In 2016, the International Sculpture Center awarded Smith their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Kiki Smith was born in 1954 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Text courtesy Timothy Taylor.

Kiki Smith Featured Artworks

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Earth by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithEarth, 2012Cotton Jacquard tapestry
287 x 190.5 cm
Pace Gallery
Untitled (Woman and Snake with pencil) by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithUntitled (Woman and Snake with pencil), 2003Porcelain with pencil
10 1/2 x 4 x 3 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery Contact Gallery
Feather Nest by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithFeather Nest, 2016Crayon, coloured pencil, and gold leaf on paper
43.8 x 52.7 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Me in a Corner by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithMe in a Corner, 2005Porcelain
23 x 19 x 27.5 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. Paris Contact Gallery
Harbor, (Ocean-rocks-birds) by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithHarbor, (Ocean-rocks-birds), 2015Cotton Jacquard tapestry
295 x 192 cm
Timothy Taylor Enquire
Still by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithStill, 2012Bronze
31.8 x 35.6 cm
Pace Gallery
Underground by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithUnderground, 2012Jacquard tapestry
294.6 x 193 cm
Timothy Taylor Enquire
Everywhere by Kiki Smith contemporary artwork
Kiki SmithEverywhere, 2017Ink and leaf on Nepalese paper
183 x 142.2 cm
Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke Contact Gallery

Kiki Smith Current & Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Kiki Smith, Light at Pace Gallery, Geneva
Upcoming
9 September–31 October 2020 Kiki Smith Light Pace GalleryGeneva
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Small Format at Pace Gallery, New York
Closed
13 February–19 March 2020 Group Exhibition Small Format Pace GalleryNew York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, American Women: The Infinite Journey at La Patinoire Royale – galerie Valérie Bach, Brussels
Closed
8 January–21 March 2020 Group Exhibition American Women: The Infinite Journey La Patinoire Royale – galerie Valérie BachBrussels

Kiki Smith Represented By

Pace Gallery contemporary art gallery in New York, USA Pace Gallery New York, London, Geneva, Palo Alto, Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing
Timothy Taylor contemporary art gallery in London, United Kingdom Timothy Taylor London, New York

Kiki Smith In Ocula Magazine

Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Report Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See By Sharmistha Ray, New York

The Armory Show opens to the public on 7 March (running to 10 March 2019)—just about a week after the fair relocated a portion of its 194 exhibitors due to structural issues found in Pier 92, forcing its sister fair Volta to cancel its 2019 show so that Armory could occupy its Pier 90 venue. Despite the upheaval, New York 's art week is...

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The Lowdown: shows to see during Frieze week Ocula Report The Lowdown: shows to see during Frieze week By Robert Ayers, New York

With Frieze New York returning to Randall's Island Park from 4 to 6 May 2018, Ocula is on hand to offer a selection of exhibitions around the city, from Bushwick and the LES to Chelsea, Midtown and the Upper East Side. Exhibition view: Before the Fall: German and Austrian Art of the 1930s, Neue Galerie New York (8 March–28 May 2018)....

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Kiki Smith In Related Press

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The Must-See Exhibitions in Paris During FIAC Related Press The Must-See Exhibitions in Paris During FIAC 16 October 2019, Frieze Magazine

Known for her politically charged works that explore themes like exile, mass-migration and displacement, British-Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum is experiencing renewed and timely interest today, particularly since her remarkable show at the Tate Modern in 2016.

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Kiki Smith and the Pursuit of Beauty in a Notably Unbeautiful Age Related Press Kiki Smith and the Pursuit of Beauty in a Notably Unbeautiful Age 26 November 2018, New York Times

STROLLING WITH THE ARTIST Kiki Smith down the not-entirely-gentrified East Village block where she lives and works, in a townhouse with a cherry-red door, can take a remarkably long time. It's not that she isn't nimble — at 64, she has energy to match her famously prodigious output, able to navigate in a billowing black cotton shift around...

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Feminist artist Kiki Smith: 'Getting older, certain things quiet' Related Press Feminist artist Kiki Smith: 'Getting older, certain things quiet' 30 August 2018, The Sydney Morning Herald

The female body. Its bones and limbs, its emotions, its animal instinct, its bodily functions, its secrets and anxieties, its sexuality, its illnesses and pain. There is no part of it that has been left unexplored by the fearless American artist Kiki Smith, a pioneer of contemporary feminist art who has grappled with female beauty, shame...

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Kiki Smith Takes Over the Eldridge Street Synagogue with 50 Artworks Related Press Kiki Smith Takes Over the Eldridge Street Synagogue with 50 Artworks 5 June 2018, Hyperallergic

Before the restoration of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, birds flew in through holes in the roof. The animals roosted in the 19th-century structure that was once a haven for Eastern European Jews on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but it had fallen into a decline because of a shrinking membership and its leaking sanctuary was closed off half a...

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