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Kiki Smith Large Dessert

cm 75 x 850 x 231 ca.
Although she works with very diverse artistic techniques, such as etching, drawing and tapestry, the artist adopted sculpture as her favored technique, perhaps influenced as a child by the work of her father, the sculptor Tony Smith. She creates figures of women and animals in bronze, terracotta and other materials, sometimes conceived to be exhibited in groups. Smith has always focused on the theme of identity, gender stereotypes and the female body, further examining religious personalities with a strong symbolic meaning such as Lilith, the first wife of Adam, or Eve, and the relationship between women and nature. In terms of the interest in these subjects, her work can be compared to that of Rosemarie Trockel and other artists who since the 1980s and 90s have been dedicated to Feminist issues. Unlike previous works, in "Large Dessert" the artist experiments with an unusual choral approach and much more serene vision of the female world: twenty-three white porcelain characters inhabit the surface of a long table, assembled from wooden boxes, like the furniture by which Kiki Smith was surrounded during her childhood. They are women and children in 18th century clothes, engaged in household, solitary or group activities. The poses and attitudes of the characters cite a few works of the collection in Palazzo Querini Stampalia in Venice, the place for which "Large Dessert" was originally conceived. In addition to paintings by Pietro Longhi, the models are little figures in Sèvres bisque porcelain, which in the 18th century were used to decorate dining tables during dessert (hence the title of the work). The broad foreheads of the characters, the delicately altered proportions, the contrast between the clean finish of the complexions and rough material quality of the clothing, characterize the sculptures according to the artist’s style in those years.
On View
C. Bertola (ed.), Kiki Smith – Homespun Tales. Storie di occupazione domestica, exhibition catalogue (Venice, Fondazione Querini Stampalia), Venice 2005; S. Engberg (ed.), Kiki Smith. A Gathering 1980-2005, exhibition catalogue (Minneapolis, Walker Art Center), Minneapolis 2005; V. Bittencourt, V. Katz (eds.), Kiki Smith. The Venice Story, Milan 2006.
Photo Credits
Foto Patrizia Tocci
Legal status
Purchased from Galleria Lorcan O'Neill, Rome
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