Visual Arts Mentor Kiki Smith Featured in Multiple International Exhibits This Fall

Audrey Deng
September 13, 2019

This fall, Visual Arts Mentor, Kiki Smith is featured in four exhibitions across Europe, with content ranging from collaborative installations to career-long retrospectives. 

Smith, a contemporary American artist best known for her figural representations of mortality, abjection, and sexuality, currently teaches at both Columbia University and New York University. Smith’s total virtuosity in depicting the natural world, and the human body’s place within it, has cemented her place as one of our most influential artists today. 

In a profile by NYT Magazine published last year, Smith’s 40-year career was described as “an icon of figurative art [making her] one of the most enduring creators of post-feminist imagery in mediums from sculpture and drawing to tapestry and printmaking, her very range demonstrating her constant restlessness.”

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Smith is the daughter of American sculptor Tony Smith and singer Jane Lawrence, and she grew up in New Jersey. Her career in art began with a stint at Hartford Art School, but she soon dropped out to move to New York. There, in the late 1970s, Smith began to create as she wished. According to the Guggenheim, she joined “an artists’ collective devoted to making art accessible through exhibitions outside commercial gallery settings. It was during this period that [Smith] made her first artworks, monotypes of everyday objects. Virtually self-taught, Smith describes herself as ‘a thing-maker.’”

Her first works, made in light of her father’s death, concerned human mortality and corporeality. The Guggenheim describes her earlier works are such: “Hand in Jar (1983) consists of a latex hand covered in algae and submerged in a mason jar filled with water.” Later on, when abortion approached the political fore, Smith created Womb (1986), “a swollen uterus cast in bronze and hinged on one side; when opened, it reveals its emptiness, a metaphor for women’s struggle to control their bodies.” Later, her focus shifted to animals and full-body casts. 

In the same NYT Magazine profile, Smith’s evolution is praised because “[a]s other artists have become more explicit, even bellicose, she has only gotten quieter, layering detail upon detail as she weaves a canopy of singular beauty amid the chaos.”

The shows in Europe, all solo exhibits, display some of Smith’s most prolific paintings and sculptures. The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art will house Smith’s collection of small sculptures and tapestries in Memory, which will close in a few weeks, on Sep. 30.

Art by Kiki Smith

Meanwhile, in Italy, the Galleriacontinua will display the show Compass from Sep. 28, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020. 

Art by Kiki Smith

In England, at the Modern Art OxfordI am a Wanderer, a retrospective will be on display from Sep. 28, 2019 to Jan. 19, 2020.

Art by Kiki Smith

Finally, in Belgium’s Centre de la Gravure et de l’image imprimée, Smith’s show Entre chien et loup (In the twilight) will be available from Oct. 5, 2019 to Feb. 23, 2020.