Kiki Smith / Monnaie de Paris
Oct 18, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020

Kiki Smith, Rapture, 2001, Courtesy of Pace Gallery / Photo Richard Max-Tremblay

Monnaie de Paris presents the first solo show of Kiki Smith in a French institution. Several pieces from 1980 through today are being displayed in a two level exhibition that explores the different techniques, interests and ideals of the New York-based artist. Walking through the retrospective, we learn that Smith was a committed feminist concerned with the human body, our relationship to nature, and both historical and fictional feminine characters. In the end, we leave the exhibition surprised at the artist’s mastery over the various mediums. Smith is perfectly aware of how bronze, glass, paper, or tapestries can translate different emotions and communicate a wide range of ideas, her choice of technique and materials deliberate with each instance.

 

Kiki Smith

The artist was personally involved in the curatorial discourse and, as a result, each piece seems to be carefully chosen to create a dialogue with the room that hosts it. The astonishing building of the museum provides each room with a special aura, giving us the idea that every installation was thoroughly conceived.

Through the exhibition, an array of environments is introduced to us. We can see ourselves in a world where child’s plays and fairy tales become the references. Undoubtedly, Smith wants us not only to observe but also to engage with her art, to enter a fantasy world where the main characters of our beloved fairy tales are an important source of inspiration.

 

Kiki Smith, Untitled, 1995, Courtesy Pace Gallery / Photo Ellen Page Wilson

During the 1980s, Smith developed a work that reflects on the social, cultural and politic role of women. Later, she moved on to a more narrative art, taking major biblical figures to create new interpretations. For instance, at some point in the exhibition, we are confronted with those ideas through different works of art. For one, there is a woman that seems to have taken the pose – and therefore role – of the Christ: a paper sculpture suddenly captures our attention, transporting us to another universe. We are now in close dialogue with religion. Not only do we see ourselves confronted with a Christ-like figure, but later, we encounter versions of the Virgin Mary, which also bear witness to the visceral aspects of Smith’s work. Her interest in the human form is taken on as she shows the most natural parts of the human body, making our own bodies react instinctively. We began to feel her art through our own skin, flesh and senses.

 

Kiki Smith, Pyre woman kneeling, 2002 / Courtesy nctm e l’arte and Galleria Raffaella Cortese

As a feminist artist, Smith always defends women ignored in world history. A remarkable example is the installation of Pyre Woman Kneeling, 2002 on the top of a pile of wood. Our first instinct is to connect the figure to a witch being burned. Smith built these artworks in the context of a public project, with the intention to commemorate all the women who were killed in Europe during the witch-hunt. She correctly realized that there wasn’t any monument built on their behalf and as a way to pay due homage to them. It’s a very powerful piece if we acknowledge how feminism has become a major issue while making the witch an important symbol of women’s empowerment and emancipation.

 

Kiki Smith, Sky, 2012 / Photograph by Kerry Ryan McFate © Kiki Smith, courtesy Pace Gallery

Kiki Smith

With Pyre Women Kneeling as a shift in the exhibition, we are drawn into another fantastical realm. Following a somehow out-of-reality nature installation, we enter a tapestry room. Six truly impressive tapestries show us how Smith’s imaginary travels from fairy tales to medieval visual images and then to the representation of women figures in art. These works show the artist’s curiosity to explore new techniques and her understanding of each medium to tell a different story.

 

Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith

As Smith does with her art, this solo show allows us to travel from one image to the other. Several global and intimate themes are presented, inviting us to reflect on our reality and our own personal view of the world. Religion, earth’s nature, and the cosmos are some of the different concerns the artist chooses to share, questions that humanity has been trying to answer from the beginning of time. She provides a glimpse into a universe where women are both leading and empowered figures, where history and art history are keys to understanding her imagination, where fairytales guide us to re-think women’s roles in society, where textures and materials show their own peculiarity and make us feel and react differently. Exploring history, feminism and religion, Smith achieves a very powerful artistic production that invites us re-consider our ideas and presents us with an interesting vision of the world in which we live.

 

Kiki Smith
October 18, 2019 – February 9, 2020 / Monnaie de Paris
Visit the exhibition page >

Subject and Object
March 21 – August 16, 2020
This exhibition examines the relationships between the different photographic positions that have developed in the cities of the Rhineland...
+
Cities in Dust
Jan 23 – Jul 31, 2020
Our era is typified by human presence as the main enabler of disasters. This collective exhibition presents 15 artists...
+
Rhythms and Vibrations
June 4 – July 24, 2020
From the start of abstract art there was a split between two lines: one structured and economical, often proscribing...
+
Vivian Maier: Works in Color
Jun 1 - Sep 13, 2020
Deepening the understanding of Maier’s oeuvre and her keenness to record, these works capture the street life of Chicago...
+
A Matter of Black Lives
ARTPIL / Prescription .114
Following the murder of George Floyd by police officers, demonstrations across the U.S. and beyond ignite against racism and...
+
We Are One
A Global Film Festival
This festival is born out of the idea that the film community can come together in times of crises,...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .113
Dunning, Kruger & Co.
Confinement has been wearisome with severe economic consequences. The world is now looking to reopening with varying levels of...
+
Frank Walter: A Retrospective
May 16 – Nov 15, 2020
There is no typical Frank Walter. His abstract works are systematic, the individuality of his figurative painting is captivating,...
+
Subject and Object
March 21 – August 16, 2020
This exhibition examines the relationships between the different photographic positions that have developed in the cities of the Rhineland...
+
Cities in Dust
Jan 23 – Jul 31, 2020
Our era is typified by human presence as the main enabler of disasters. This collective exhibition presents 15 artists...
+
Rhythms and Vibrations
June 4 – July 24, 2020
From the start of abstract art there was a split between two lines: one structured and economical, often proscribing...
+
Vivian Maier: Works in Color
Jun 1 - Sep 13, 2020
Deepening the understanding of Maier’s oeuvre and her keenness to record, these works capture the street life of Chicago...
+
A Matter of Black Lives
ARTPIL / Prescription .114
Following the murder of George Floyd by police officers, demonstrations across the U.S. and beyond ignite against racism and...
+
We Are One
A Global Film Festival
This festival is born out of the idea that the film community can come together in times of crises,...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .113
Dunning, Kruger & Co.
Confinement has been wearisome with severe economic consequences. The world is now looking to reopening with varying levels of...
+
Frank Walter: A Retrospective
May 16 – Nov 15, 2020
There is no typical Frank Walter. His abstract works are systematic, the individuality of his figurative painting is captivating,...
+