Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things

Kiki Smith. Untitled. 1990

Lithograph, composition (irreg.): 35 13/16 x 36 5/16" (91 x 92.2 cm); sheet: 35 13/16 x 36 5/16" (91 x 92.2 cm). Gift of Emily Fisher Landau. © 2018 Kiki Smith

NARRATOR: In 1989 Kiki Smith was invited to make prints at Universal Limited Art Editions in Long Island, the print workshop that became her most important collaborator. This print is the first she completed there and it immediately announced her inventive approach.

While this print is officially untitled, you’ll likely recognize the image: it’s hair. Smith was named after the Catholic saint, Santa Chiara, who cut off her hair as an act of devotion.

Curator Wendy Weitman:

WENDY WEITMAN: Hair’s a very important image to Kiki Smith. It obviously has strong feminine connotations both with Catholic allusions and its feminist allusions. And so she decided to use her hair.

NARRATOR: Here, the artist took something quite literal and by isolating it from any context, rendered it abstract.

KIKI SMITH: For the most part, my work is always representational. And the only way for me to make things that are more abstract has been through representation, like the hair print.

NARRATOR: This print was made using molds and Xerox transfers of the artist’s hair, supplemented by wigs and cornsilks.

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