Kiki Smith

Parliament, 2022
Cotton Jacquard Tapestry (wool, cotton, and metallic threads)
116 x 76 in
Edition of 10 plus 2APs and 2 SPs Owls, bees, and stars convene in Kiki Smith’s latest tapestry edition, Parliament (2017), a composition whose mysterious sense of space shifts dreamily between abstraction and mimesis. The gestural, angular, and highly textured limbs upon which Parliament’s pair of owls perch might be tree branches, but they also imply growth or movement, as if recording the flight path of airborne bodies in motion. Given the tapestry’s handful of tiny black trees set against a palette of frosty whites, pale blues and silvery grays, one imagines its convention of winged agents taking place in the crisp winter air: flying creatures hovering high above a snow-covered landscape in a rarefied realm inaccessible to the earthbound. Consistent with Smith’s other tapestries, Parliament’s composition is separated into three series of horizontal bands, as if to suggest that within each of the various natural (or supernatural) ‘realms’ depicted there exists the same strata of sky, land, and underground — a visual link that connects all of the tapestries as a series. However, compared to the layered pageantry of Smith’s previous woven works, Parliament’s spare composition and use of negative space are particularly reminiscent of her works on paper. The artist’s signature line is unmistakable in Parliament’s bottom third, where patterns — spirals suggesting the age rings inside a tree trunk, a loosely sketched honeycomb — evince the burred delicacy of Smith’s drawings and etchings, translated here into warp and weft threads.

ABout the Artist

Kiki Smith is a contemporary American artist best known for her figural representations of mortality, abjection, and sexuality. With a special fascination with the body and bodily fluids, Smith often examines excreta such as blood, semen, and bile in carefully crafted sculptures that bear the influence of Surrealism. “I always think the whole history of the world is in your body,” Smith has said. The multidisciplinary artist employs tattooing, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, textiles, and photography, to engage with a range of themes that relate to the human condition. Born on January 18, 1954 in Nuremberg, Germany, she moved with her father the sculptor Tony Smith and mother the singer Jane Lawrence to South Orange, NJ while she was still a baby. The largely self-taught Smith enrolled in the Hartford Art School for a brief period of time before moving to New York in 1976. In New York, she quickly became a fixture of the Downtown arts scene of the time which included artists like David Hammons and Jenny Holzer. Today, Smith’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others. The artist continues to live and work in New York, NY. 


Click here to view the artist's CV

Read More

Related Work