Artist Kiki Smith
Nina Subin via Wiki Commons (CC BY 4.0)Artist Kiki Smith

Don't miss this Kiki Smith exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art

Written by
Lara Rasin

Zagreb is hosting works by the contemporary American artist for an exhibition dubbed "Gloria: Croatian Female Artists Salute Kiki Smith."

"Croatian female artists salute Kiki Smith"

The National Museum of Modern Art (Croatian: Nacionalni muzej moderne umjetnosti; abbr. NMNU) notes of the show:

"The Croatian public will have the first-ever opportunity to view, in their national museum institutions, twenty-one works by the internationally renowned American artist Kiki Smith. Thanks to inventive and unencumbered technical procedures Smith has promoted through her multidisciplinary practice during the 1980s, she managed to singlehandedly change the canons in which human body and corporeality in general were traditionally presented. This is especially true of the motif of a woman and what has generally been considered the field of female creativity in art, such as motifs related to dreams, dream visions, the magical, conjuring and intuitive relationship towards reality, and nature in particular. Kiki Smith's works at the NMMU are presented alongside the works of fourteen Croatian female artists from the museum collection, created over a period of one hundred years, which we find resonant and congruous with Kiki Smith's work. It is an exhibition set-up that connects two art scenes and cultures, USA and Croatia, in time and space. The well-known Croatian female artists will introduce this international art star, practically unknown in Croatia outside the art scene, to the local public and cultural discourse. In addition to the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, the exhibition will also be showcased in the Museum of Fine Arts in Split (11 February 2022 - 27 March 2022), and each museum will present works of Croatian female artists from their respective collections. The exhibition catalogue will accompany both set-ups, the distribution of which will enable foreign audiences, who are drawn to Kiki Smith's charisma, to get to know the century of prolific work of Croatian female artists. It is a beautiful position of solidarity and sisterhood by vocation that transcends existing global structures of power and fame relations."

The fourteen Croatian artists participating are: Nevenka Arbanas, Biserka Baretić, Jagoda Buić, Vlasta Delimar, Ina Drutter, Marta Ehrlich, Ksenija Kantoci, Nives Kavurić Kurtović, Milena Lah, Sofija Naletilić Penavuša, Vesna Popržan, Slava Raškaj, Nasta Rojc, and Edita Schubert.

The exhibition was conceptualised and curated by art critic and curator Branko Franceschi, who is also the head of the National Museum of Modern Art.

On Smith herself

Read on for a short biography of Kiki Smith, translated from NMNU.

"Kiki Smith has been known since the 1980s for her multidisciplinary practise dealing with the issues of the general human condition and its relationship to the natural world. In her work, she uses a wide range of materials. They constantly expand and develop the scope of her work, which includes sculpture, graphics, photography, drawing and textiles.

In the 1980s, Smith literally reversed the figurative tradition in sculpture on her own, creating objects and drawings based on organs, cellular forms, and the human nervous system, and using unusual materials. Her later practice includes animal motifs, domestic objects, and narrative tropes from classical mythology and folk tales. Life, Death and Resurrection are thematic signposts in many installations and sculptures whose frequent topos is a gender theme, emphasising the constitution of archetypal female types and situations. Her interpretation of motifs and cultural references is inspired by the oneiric dimension of reality.

Kiki Smith has organised numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including over 25 museum exhibitions. Her work has been presented at five Venice Biennales, including the 2017 edition. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, London's Royal Academy of Arts awarded her the title of Honourary Royal Academician. Before that, Smith was recognised by TIME magazine in 2006 as one of the 'TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.' Other awards include the 2000 Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture; the 2009 Edward MacDowell Medal; the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award; the 2013 Medal of Arts, conferred by Hillary Clinton; and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by, among others, the International Sculpture Centre. She teaches at NYU and Columbia University."

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