Kiki Smith

In the 1980s, there was a return to figurative imagery in American art. After a period dominated by abstraction and conceptual art, younger artists began to focus on the body. Artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel and David Salle became superstars, celebrated for their Neo-Expressionist portraits. Into this world came Kiki Smith, an artist whose art explored the female body in its most intimate functions, its organs, membranes and fluids, as a way of understanding the female psyche in post-war America.

Smith was born in 1954 into an artistic family. Her mother, Jane Lawrence Smith, was an opera singer and actor, and her father was the American minimalist sculptor, Tony Smith. They lived in New Jersey in a large Victorian brownstone that had once belonged to her great-grandmother. She traces her fascination with mortality and the body to the atmosphere of this house, surrounded by the dead belongings of her ancestors.

Smith studied at Hartford Art School before settling in New York in 1979, where she joined Collaborative Projects Inc, an artists’ collective that investigated various forms of art presentation in unconventional venues.

By the 1980s, Smith was creating artworks in a variety of mediums, from paper and glass to cast bronze, using anatomy as a starting point for an exploration of the cultural, political and social meanings connected to the human body. It was a particularly poignant subject during the AIDS crisis, and she confronted the issue head on with works such as Untitled (1986), which comprised 12 jugs with the names of different secretions generated by the body engraved on them.

Her most unsettling sculptures came in the 1990s, when she adopted the lifesize human figure as her subject. Pee Body (1992), for example, depicted a nude female figure in wax crouched on the floor relieving herself, urine trailing behind in the form of yellow beads.

In 2006, Smith was recognised by Time magazine as one of the Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World. She has been the subject of over 25 solo museum exhibitions, featured at five Venice Biennales, and was awarded a US Department of State Medal of Arts by Hillary Clinton in 2013.

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Wolf with Bush and Roots

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Untitled (Negative Legs)

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Untitled (Negative Legs)

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Untitled (arm and leg)

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Woman on Barge

KIKI SMITH

Pool of Tears 2 (After Lewis Carroll) (W. 123)

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Untitled (Tear and Blood)

KIKI SMITH

Worm (Weitman 64)

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Jupiter and Io

KIKI SMITH (b. 1954)

Finger Bowl

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Little Offering

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Bird and Stars

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Finger Bowl

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Untitled (Feet)

Kiki Smith (née en 1954)

Untitled (Bloodcells)

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Girl with Glitter #2

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

My Blue Lake

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Ballerina (Stretching Right)

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Etc., Etc. (Weitman 79)

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Bird and Stars

Kiki Smith (b. 1954)

Second Choice

KIKI SMITH (B. 1954)

Banshee Pearls