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Art HERstory: KiKi Smith


Art HERstory: KiKi Smith

Art HERstory: KiKi Smith

Social programming is a major part of who we all are. We’ve been subconsciously trained to fit in a designated list of norms dictated by forces outside of your own being. As the saying goes, rules are meant to be broken. Those who test such norms and push the envelope when it comes to whats ‘acceptable’ are some of the most influential and interesting people on the planet.  KiKi Smith (1954 – )is a woman whose name should be added to the list of the interesting,  ballsy, and outright rebellious people of the world. She is an artist who thrives on making heads tilt in question, mouths drop in wonder, and eyes bulge in shock. Yes, her work is that controversial.

"Hanging Woman" (1992). Death is an ending we will all encounter one day. I guess thats why this sculpture has so much power. The first thing that comes to my mind when I see it is the high teen suicide rate.

"Hanging Woman" (1992). Death is an ending we will all encounter one day. I guess thats why this sculpture has so much power. The first thing that comes to my mind when I see it is the high teen suicide rate.

Tony Smith utilized his little helper from a young age. KiKi spent her time as a young girl helping her father put together his geometric sculptures. Tony’s formalist approach mixed with KiKi’s Catholic upbringing  fused together in the little girls mind and the result is historical.  In art, the formalist approach rests on the foundation that all you need to know about a piece of art is whats in front of you. The context, creation, historical background,  and artists life all come secondary to whats visually in front of you.

"Blood Pool" (1996). This sculpture has to make some queasy. The skin on this figure is wax and painted with black and blue bruises that look eerily realistic.

"Blood Pool" (1996). This sculpture has to make some queasy. The skin on this figure is wax and painted with black and blue bruises that look eerily realistic.

KiKi began her own sculpting in the late 1970s and turned to printing in the 1980s. Her first works were actually images screen printed on scarves, dresses, and shirts. Towards the end of the 1980s she began to create more and more poster-like prints. The Museum of Modern Art noticed KiKi’s genius from the beginning and has been an avid buyer of her print work since she started. The Museum now own over 50 of KiKi’s pieces.

“Prints mimic what we are as humans: we are all the same and yet every one is different. I think there’s a spiritual power in repetition, a devotional quality, like saying rosaries.” -KiKi Smith (1998)

The creations that come out of KiKi’s imagination are all but normal. Her collections have toyed with various themes and approaches from race and gender to AIDS and social issues. No matter what specific theme KiKi tackles at the moment, the ones she revisits the most are life, death, religion, and the human anatomy. One thing is certain about everything KiKi participates in, it is going to get some kind of reaction out of you.

"Untitled" (1989-90). This sculpture needs no description. We all know what those are. The cool thing about this sculpture? Each of the 200 hand crafted, crystal sperm are unique.

"Untitled" (1989-90). This sculpture needs no description. We all know what those are. The cool thing about this sculpture? Each of the 200 hand crafted, crystal sperm are unique.

Despite the funny looks and side comments KiKi encounters, she never stops doing what she wants when it comes to her art. She is still very active in the art world. To be honest, shes a frontrunner. KiKi lives in New Jersey and has been represented by the Pace Gallery in New York since 1994. Most of er exhibitions are in either New York or her birthplace, Germany.

Image Layout: Phaymiss


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