Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things

Kiki Smith. Untitled (Moons). 1993

Collaged lithograph, composition and sheet: 65 3/8 x 64 3/16 x 2 3/8" (166.1 x 163 x 6 cm). Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro Fund and Riva Castleman Endowment Fund. © 2018 Kiki Smith

NARRATOR: If you look closely you’ll see that the moons, referred to in the title of this print, are really breasts. And as in much of her print work, the artist herself is the source for the image.

As a child, Kiki Smith made paper models, or maquettes for her father, the sculptor Tony Smith. In her father’s minimalist work, a few geometric shapes were used and reconfigured, again and again. Smith says that these childhood experiences may have led to the repeated images in her own work.

Here, you have a beautiful image, and pattern and texture but the details of the image have the capacity to surprise, or even shock. It's something curator Wendy Weitman considers a key to understanding these prints.

WENDY WEITMAN: I think one of the greatest strengths of Kiki Smith’s work is how she conflates the decorative and the confrontational. I think it's at the core of her very best work.

NARRATOR: This work also suggests Smith’s interest in blankets and tapestries. Here, in a brilliant fusion of form and content, she has created a blanket out of breasts. Breasts are a motif she uses repeatedly to suggest warmth and nurturing.

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