Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things

Lithograph on mold-made T.H Saunders Paper  
 Composition: 68 1/8 x 55 3/4" (173 x 141.5 cm)  
 Sheet: 68 1/8 x 56 1/8 (173 x 142.5 cm)  
 Publisher and printer: Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York  
 Edition: 28 The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Emily Fisher Landau, 2002  
 ©Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith. Born. 2002

Lithograph, composition: 68 1/8 x 55 11/16" (173 x 141.5 cm); sheet: 68 1/8 x 56 1/8" (173 x 142.5 cm). Gift of Emily Fisher Landau. © 2018 Kiki Smith

NARRATOR: Kiki Smith uses color sparingly, but the works on this wall reflect the influence of a specific period of illustration: Victorian children's books. Here, you see two treatments of Little Red Riding Hood.

The first, entitled Companions, is on two sheets to your left. Both the girl and the wolf are nearly life-size and appear to be related, yet independent of each other. Like the organs of the body seen elsewhere in the exhibition, like her self-portraits and the birds and animals, these figures float free of background or context, as Smith reinvents their relationships. Perhaps the girl and the wolf are no longer victim and aggressor, but equals.

KIKI SMITH: I'm very interested in taking images and attributes of images and taking them out of their original narrative context. And either, changing the context or, you know, literally changing the story, or making relationships between those sort of stories and other stories.

NARRATOR: The work entitled Born, to your right, is a later telling of the same story, It conveys a very different narrative, and an element of resurrection.

KIKI SMITH: In one story, the Huntsman or the Forest-man comes and cuts the grandmother and the girl out of the wolf. And so I thought oh, it was like they were being born out of wolves.

NARRATOR: Isolated from a particular narrative, what you see here, is what you choose to see, and Smith is emphatic that she likes it that way.

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