After presenting the works by the renowned American artist Kiki Smith at the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb, the Split public will also have the unique opportunity at the Museum of Fine Arts to see for the first time the selected works from this unique artist’s internationally recognized oeuvre. Nineteen works created from 1995 to 2019 give insight into inventive and unencumbered technical procedures Smith has promoted through her multidisciplinary practice that have, during the 1980s, changed 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. The selected works also present her wide range of materials and techniques that expand and evolve the body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing and textiles.
Kiki Smith’s works are presented alongside the works of Croatian female artists from the museum collections, in this case the collection of Museum of Fine Arts in Split, 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. The exhibition catalogue will accompany both set-ups, the one at the National Museum of Modern Art in Zagreb and the Museum of Fine Arts in Split, 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.
Exhibited Croatian artists from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Split: Nevenka Arbanas, Dubravka Babić, Jagoda Buić, Marta Ehrlich, Ksenija Kantoci, Nives Kavurić Kurtović, Milena Lah, Alieta Monas Plejić, Neli Ružić, Marija Ujević Galetović, Vlasta Žanić.
Kiki Smith has been known since the 1980s for her multidisciplinary practice relating to the human condition and the natural world. She uses a broad variety of materials to continuously expand and evolve the body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing and textiles. In the 1980s, Smith literally turned the figurative tradition in sculpture inside out, creating objects and drawings based on organs, cellular forms and the human nervous system as well as by 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 of her installations and sculptures, the frequent topos of which are themes of gender with an emphasis on the construction of archetypal female types and situations. Her interpretation of motifs along with cultural references is inspired with the oneiric dimension of reality.
Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including over 25 museum exhibitions. Her work has been featured 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, and in 2017 was awarded the title of Honorary Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Previously, Smith was recognized in 2006 by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: People Who Shape Our World”. Other awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2000; the 2009 Edward MacDowell Medal; the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award; the 2013 U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts, conferred by Hillary Clinton; and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, among others. She is an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia University.