Kiki Smith
Belvedere, Wien

Haus der Kunst, Munich
February 2 to June 3, 2018
Sara Hildén Museum, Tampere/Finland
February 9 to May 12, 2019

Belvedere, Vienna
June 7 to September15, 2019

Curated by Petra Giloy-Hirtz

Kiki Smith . Procession

Born in 1954, American artist Kiki Smith is a pioneer of contemporary sculpture and one of the most outstanding artists of our time. She has created a multifaceted body of work that explores political and social as well as philosophical and spiritual aspects of human nature. The artist investigates the human body without fear of taboos, humiliation, or the constraints of shame, opening up the conditio humana, the human condition, for public debate. Her works tackle the subjects of age, dying and death, pain and healing, reanimation, wholeness and fragmentation, pregnancy, birth, sexuality, gender, identity, and memory. Kiki Smith’s oeuvre encompasses a variety of media in addition to sculpture, most notably drawings, etchings, and lithography, but even including books, photography, and video. She thus employs a wide range of materials to create her works, from bronze, plaster, glass, and porcelain to paper, pigment, aluminium, latex, feathers, and beeswax. Smith’s dedication to the drama of the human body, particularly the female body, is something she shares with artists such as Eva Hesse (1936–1970), Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), and Nancy Spero (1926–2009). Her inventiveness, her radical approach, and the magic of the materials she uses make Kiki Smith’s works truly unique and have influenced many upcoming artists over the years.

The exhibition presents the full spectrum of the New York-based artist’s diverse practice, tracing its development through her career up to the present. A major focus has been placed on her sculpture – from the beginnings in the 1980s to the present day. Kiki Smith’s early artworks were influenced by the incredible political, social, and cultural change taking place at the time, as shaped by the AIDS crisis, discourse on sexual identity and social gender, and feminist activism. In the early 1990s, Smith began to incorporate history, mythology, legends, and fairy tales into her work as well as elements of religion and the traditions of distant cultures.

Procession introduces Kiki Smith’s figures and narratives in a sumptuous display that rolls past the viewer like a ceremonial parade that highlights the power and charisma of her works. The presentation at the Haus der Kunst is the first large-scale retrospective of the artist’s work in Europe.