Karen Kilimnik Fergie (A Quiet Life) 1991

  • Not on view

Kilimnik, a native of Philadelphia, rose to international attention in the early 1990s with a diverse body of work encompassing drawing, painting, sculpture, and video. Drawing plays a major role in her artistic practice and Fergie (A Quiet Life) is a signature example. With its photo–derived image, text from a gossipy tabloid, and famous subject, this drawing incorporates the central strands of Kilimnik's art, which typically blends sentimentality with irony in a critique of fame and media.

Like many of the bygone pictorial styles Kilimnik ironically resurrects, royalty is itself a historical form with an arguably debased present, and the inclusion of the Duchess of York here demonstrates the ways in which Kilimnik generates considered (if biting) correspondences between the subjects of her art and its form. The intentionally flat forms in the drawings (which typically include very little shading) not only refer to the constrained possibilities for handmade art after the age of mechanical reproduction, but also to the vapidity and fleetingness of the fame of their subjects. These themes are reflected too in the "casually" handwritten transcription of a gossip-column report that occupies the right-hand side of the sheet. This text, which addresses issues of class and new world / old world tensions, is simultaneously catty and playful while also clearly ironic and critical.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 111.
Crayon on paper
35 x 23" (88.9 x 58.4 cm)
Gift of David Teiger
Object number
© 2023 Karen Kilimnik
Drawings and Prints

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