Smith, Kiki

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Smith, Kiki

Kiki Smith, 1954–, American sculptor and printmaker, b. Nuremberg, Germany. The daughter of sculptor Tony Smith, she grew up in New Jersey and settled in New York City in 1976. Prolific and essentially self taught, she has been acclaimed as one of the most significant artists of her generation. Her audacious yet often delicate figurative works are made in many media, including bronze, aluminium, wax, paper, glass, ceramic, and fabric. Smith has been fascinated with the human body, as a functioning unit and a political object. Much of her 1980s work portrays external and internal parts of the body (feet, breasts, organs, fluids), some bearing signs of mortality and decay, some evoking the ravages of AIDS. Her later sculptures are mainly bodies in the round, often life-sized and under some duress; some are flayed, some dead. Others are frank in their concern with bodily functions, e.g. Pee Body (1992), some, e.g., her St. Genevieve series, mirror her Roman Catholic background, and others reflect her concerns with storytelling, myth, and the feminine, as in her sculptures and prints of the Red Riding Hood story or her monumental witches on pyres. Smith's more recent works frequently portray birds and other animals—often interacting with human figures—as well as flowers.

See W. Weitman, Kiki Smith: Prints, Books and Things (2003), H. Posner and C. Lyon, Kiki Smith (2005), and S. Engberg et al., Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980–2005 (2006).

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