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Kiki Smith

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Kiki Smith (b. 1954) is a leading contemporary artist with a career spanning more than three decades. Known primarily for her sculpture and works on paper, Smith is a wildly experimental and innovative printmaker. She is constantly pushing the boundaries in the field in all areas, including style, technique, and imagery. Her work addresses feminist, philosophical, social, sexual, and political aspects of human nature. Her early work, transgressive in nature, dealt with mortality and decay, while her more recent work explores the natural world, portraiture, fairy tales, and myths.

Though the artist has experimented with a wide range of non-traditional materials and mediums, Smith has relied on the versatility and practicality of prints throughout her entire career. Upon her father—the sculptor Tony Smith’s—death in 1980, Smith turned her attention to themes of mortality and decay. She developed an interest in prints because of their archival nature. Printmaking further allowed for a certain freedom in terms of re-use and image duplication.

Born to two American artists in Nuremberg, Germany, Smith was raised in New Jersey and attended Hartford Art School for a year and a half before moving to New York. She continues to live and work in New York City.

In 2017, Smith was selected to represent the United States at the 57th Venice Biennale. She has received many awards and distinctions such as the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, the 2013 U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts, conferred by Hillary Clinton, the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, Purchase College School of the Arts, the fiftieth Edward MacDowell Medal from the MacDowell Colony in 2009, the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2005.

Smith’s work is in numerous prominent museum collections, including the Albertina Museum, Vienna; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; State Graphic Collection of Munich, DE; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.

Smith’s work is set to be featured at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne in 2020 in a solo exhibition focusing on Smith’s sculptures and works on paper, with an accompanying catalogue “Kiki Smith. Hearing You with My Eyes” edited by Laurence Schmidlin. Kiki Smith was also the subject of surveys at Monnaie Paris (2019), a traveling exhibition at Haus der Kunst in Munich (2018), Dallas Contemporary (2017), the Brooklyn Museum (2010), the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2006), the Whitney Museum of Modern Art (2006), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005), the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London (1995), the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamston, MA (1992) and the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva (1990). Smith’s first solo show was hosted in 1982 by the Kitchen in New York. In 2003, the Museum of Modern Art featured over 150 of Smith’s works on paper in a major exhibition, titled “Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things,” with an accompanying catalog by Wendy Weitman.

Mary Ryan Gallery has held a solo show of Smith’s prints in 2017, and has included in several group shows.
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