Kiki Smith at Monnaie de Paris, 2019. Photo by Ian Langsdon © Kiki Smith

Museum Exhibitions

Kiki Smith

Monnaie de Paris

11 Quai de Conti, Paris

Oct 18, 2019 – Feb 9, 2020

Monnaie de Paris proudly presents the first solo show of the American artist Kiki Smith to be staged by a French public institution.

This unique collection of exceptional breadth will bring together almost one hundred works from the 1980s to the present day. Visitors will be greeted by two sculptures in the exterior courtyards of Monnaie de Paris and the exhibition itself will be held on two floors, covering more than 1000m2, notably within the historic salons facing the Seine. The exhibition will cover the major themes of the artist’s oeuvre, including the human body, the female figure and the symbiotic relationship with nature, all of which are recurring motifs. The works to be presented at the Monnaie de Paris will reflect the great diversity of Kiki Smith’s practice, and the wide variety of media she has explored: bronze, plaster, glass, porcelain, tapestry, paper and wax.

The symbolism of Kiki Smith’s art finds its inspiration in her childhood memories – her reading of the fairy tales of Perrault and the Grimm brothers – and the model making she did for her father, the sculptor Tony Smith. The whole of her oeuvre is marked by her fascination with the human body, which she at first represented as separate individual parts with the skin appearing as a fragile frontier between the body and the world. In the mid 1980s, Kiki Smith discovered for herself new and original ways of exploring women’s social, cultural and political roles in society. Subsequently, her work took on a more narrative form. From a feminist standpoint, she appropriated many of the great female biblical figures in order to depict them in a fresh and innovative manner. Within the corpus of her work they sit side by side with heroines from fairy tales or the ambiguous figure of the witch, at the crossroads of a universe of fantasy and popular folklore. 

From the early 2000s, she became progressively more interested in the great myths of creation and cosmogony brought into being a new chapter of her practice in its own right. In parallel to this, the harmonious co-existence between women and animals began to feature in her work: their bodies sometimes joined together in fusion, independent of any verisimilitude.

Thus Kiki Smith’s oeuvre resembles a voyage, a quest in search of a union between the body and all other living beings and the cosmos. From microscopic elements to the organs of the body, from the organs to the body in its entirety, then from the body to cosmic systems, the artist explores the relationship between different species and scales, seeking out the harmony that unites us with nature and the universe.

Although sculpture occupies a central position in her work, Kiki Smith has also produced many drawings, often in large format. The artist particularly appreciates the art of engraving and has a personal collection of coins and pre-colonial currency. The exhibition will extend within the 11 Conti museum, with the presentation of pieces chosen by Kiki Smith from the heritage collections. The bilingual catalogue accompanying this exhibition will be the first major publication in French on the subject of her work.

For more information, please visit Monnaie de Paris's (opens in a new window) website.

  • Museum Exhibitions — Kiki Smith at Monnaie de Paris, Oct 18, 2019