Internationally acclaimed artist Kiki Smith became one of the leading artists of her time by revitalizing the body as subject matter, for herself and her generation of artists, as well as her successors. Now at the height of her career, Smith continues to be an extremely inventive and prolific artist motivated by endless curiosity about the world, notes Helaine Posner, Chief Curator of the Neuberger Museum of Art
of Purchase College, who organized Visionary Sugar: Works by Kiki Smith, an exhibition of Smiths new work, that opens on February 4 at the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College. She has an enduring desire to explore the range and possibilities of figuration linked to an expansive engagement with nature, spirit, and the imagination.
The exhibition includes new large-scale drawings, printed collages, woven tapestries, multi-colored gilded reliefs, and cast bronze and aluminum sculpture. In this work, Smith explores the profound interdependence of all living things, representing and embracing the vitality of an animistic, spiritually-charged universe. Her imagery includes the female and male figure; birds, reptiles, and animals; flowers and trees; and the sun, moon and stars. Smith draws on a diverse range of artistic and popular sources from Byzantine icons and medieval tapestries, to Hollywood films of the 1920s and the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s, to create a new body of work that weaves a distinctly personal tale. It is a story about how imperative it is at this moment to celebrate and honor the wondrous and precarious nature of being here on earth, according to the artist.
Ms. Posner notes: Smith is endlessly inventive and surprising; she takes on the big themes. Yet, because the artist is so well established, people may think theyve seen it all. Not so. In Visionary Sugar, Smith moves in new directions and works in new materials, making this an important exhibition of work by a major artist.
Visionary Sugar is comprised of a constellation of works that collectively explore the natural and spiritual realms. They include a triptych of Jacquard tapestries, depicting the human figure on a journey through three worlds sky, earth, and underworld. In Sky, a figure floats in the heavens accompanied by birds and stars while Earth and Underworld are inhabited by beings in close communion with nature. Elsewhere, a flock of colorful, gilded bronze birds alight on a gallery wall as three suspended sculptures in the form of large birds, moons, and stars take flight. They are joined by a silvery, seated figure titled Annunciation, her hand raised in a gesture of blessing.
Visionary Sugar: Works by Kiki Smith is organized by Helaine Posner, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College.