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Kiki Smith: Portraits, Celestial Bodies and Fairy Tales (Prints from 1990 through now)

A solo exhibition of Kiki Smith’s prints from 1990 through now. Often known first as a sculptor whose transgressive early works confronted mortality and bodily decay, Smith is an innovative printmaker whose more recent work on paper explores nature, portraiture, and fairy tales. Printmaking became an essential part of Smith’s practice during the mid-1980s, and she persistently pushes the medium’s boundaries not only of style, technique, and imagery but also between print, drawing, and book.

On view is a selection of Smith’s most important prints, including Sueño (1992) and My Blue Lake (1995), that demonstrate her experimental approach and survey her shifting concerns from physical vulnerability to mythological and natural subjects. The life-sized figure of Sueño is the form of Smith herself but represents her sister, Beatrice, who died in 1988 during the AIDS epidemic. A technician traced Smith’s outline onto the copperplate, which the artist then filled in with twisted patterns that recall medical musculature drawings. Smith again takes her own image in the hand colored photogravure and lithograph My Blue Lake, using the British Museum’s 360-degree periphery camera to create an encompassing self-portrait and blending her features into landscape. Also on view are Smith’s interpretations of fairy tales, including the ambitiously large-scale homage to Lewis Carroll Come Away From Her (2003), and two artist’s books, Free Fall (1994) and Tidal (I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me, 1998).
Relevant research areas: North America, 20th Century, Contemporary

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