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The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) (r) is a structured vocabulary for generic concepts related to art and architecture. It was developed by The Getty Research Institute to help research institutions become consistent in the terminology they use.Learn More

Object Name: 
Accession Number: 
On Display
Credit Line: 
Gift in part of the artist and Pace Gallery, New York
Web Description: 
The acclaimed New York artist Kiki Smith employs a wide range of nontraditional materials in a diverse body of work that includes painting, photography, books, sculpture, drawing, and printmaking. Throughout her prolific career, she has focused on the body and the natural world. A room-size installation, Constellation consists of a large, circular field of leaves of indigo-dyed Nepalese paper, arranged on the floor. Twenty-nine hot-sculpted glass animals are placed on the paper, along with cast glass stars and hundreds of pieces of cast bronze animal scat. Among the glass animals are a hare, a dog, a snake, bears, a bull, a scorpion, a ram, birds, and a goat. Together, they refer to 27 constellations, including such well-known star patterns as Ursa Major and Minor, Scorpius, Aries, and Cancer, as well as lesser-known ones, such as Corvus (the crow), Lacerta (the lizard), and Delphinus (the dolphin). Almost all of these constellations—16 in the northern sky and 10 in the southern sky—are visible to people throughout the world. Smith also included one star pattern—Musca Borealis, the fly of the north—that is no longer recognized. The animal forms were inspired by images in an early 19th-century celestial atlas.* For this work, Smith chose to include only animal constellations, focusing on animals for the simple and compelling reason that they are threatened. Concerned about extinction, she wrote, “How do you construct an identity without animals?” (see below Smith and Smith, p. 23). In Smith’s work, the ferocity and vulnerability of animals are also a metaphor for the human condition. Unsigned. Published: Siri Engberg, Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980–2005, Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2005, p. 71, fig. 28; Helaine Posner, Kiki Smith, Boston: Bulfinch Press, 1998, pp. 164–165; and Elizabeth A. T. Smith and Kiki Smith, Paradise Cage: Kiki Smith and Coop Himmelb(l)au, Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1996, p. 23. See also “Kiki Smith,” * Alexander Jamieson, A Celestial Atlas: Comprising a Systematic Display of the Heavens in a Series of Thirty Maps: Illustrated by Scientific Description of Their Contents and Accompanied by Catalogues of the Stars and Astronomical Exercises, London: G. & W. B. Whittaker, 1822.
Pace Gallery LLC, Source
Smith, Kiki (American, b. Germany, 1954), Source
Pino Signoretto
Engraved on all glass animals except for (-6 b) Branch, (-14) Antelope, and (-24) Small Snake
Primary Description: 
Installation, "Constellation". Colorless soda-lime glass, colorless Schott lead glass, bronze, handmade indigo-dyed Nepalese paper; hot-sculpted soda-lime and cast lead glass, cast bronze scat, assembled. Installation consists of a circular field of leaves of indigo-dyed paper arranged on the floor. 29 hot-sculpted glass animals are placed on the paper, representing constellations in the night sky, along with 67 lost-wax cast glass stars, and 626 pieces of cast bronze animal scat. The hot-sculpted glass animals are as follows: (-1ab) Cygnus the Swan with metal mount, (-2) Pisces Australis, the Fish (fluke), (-3) Musca Borealis, the Fly of the North, (-4) Canis Major, the Great Dog, (-5) Canis Minor, the Little Dog, (-6ab) Columba Noachi, Noah's Dove and olive branch that sits beside it, (-7ab) Equuleus, The Horse, with metal mount, (-8) Lynx, (-9) Scorpius, the Scorpion, (-10) Columba Noachi, Noah's Dove, (-11) Lepus the Hare, (-12ab) Leo Major, the Great Lion, with metal mount, (-13) Ursa Major, the Great Bear, (-14) Capricornus, the Goat Fish, (-15) Lacerta, the Lizard, (-16) Lupus, the Wolf, (-17ab) Corvus, the Crow, with metal mount, (-18) Cancer, the Crab, (-19) Aries, the Ram, (-20) Leo Minor, the Little Lion, (-21) -Pisces, the Fish (trout), (-22) Pisces, the fish (flounder), (-23) Cetus, the Whale or Sea Monster, (-24) Serpens, the Serpent, (-25ab) Taurus, the Bull, with metal mount, (-26) Delphinus, the Dolphin, (-27) Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, (-28ab) Aquila, the Eagle, with metal mount, (-29) Hydra, the Water Serpent.
National Glass Centre
Space-Time continues the NGC’s policy of showcasing work by a range of artists – not just those working in glass – who cross both national and artistic boundaries. Consequently this show sees glass by Kiki Smith exhibited alongside Steven Pippin’s photograph 2B Space & Time Drawing (which depicts a UFO he saw in the 1980s) and Tehching Hsieh’s short film One Year Performance. What all the exhibitors have in common though, is an interest in astronomy, the role of time and a fascination with space – for example Liliane Lijn did a residency at the Space Sciences Laboratory in Berkeley, California and her resulting piece Heavenly Fragments is made out of Aerogel, a substances more usually used by NASA to capture star dust. Glass artists in the show include Dominick Labino, who has made a watery blue glass pyramid. Untitled # 420, refers to the pyramids and their role in forecasting the solar astronomical year. Kiki Smith, meanwhile has made Constellation, a glass installation in the form of a giant zodiac with the astronomical animals scattered across a giant midnight blue circle. Look out also for Hieki Brachlow and Vaclav Cigler, who both experiment with the optical effects of glass and light refraction.
Kiki Smith: Constellation
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Kiki Smith’s Constellation is a meditation on the infinity of space and our human desire to know and tame it – to make it our own. In this room-sized installation, the artist brings the vast dome of heaven down to earth, where cast glass animals and stars sparkle and glow at our feet. Arranged upon a plane of night-blue Nepal paper, these miniature symbols of distant constellations awaken wonder and remind us of the mystery that compelled ancient astronomers to chart and name them. The interrelatedness of nature and its parts is a pervasive theme in Kiki Smith’s work. She explores the human and animal, the celestial and earthly, the macrocosm and microcosm. Like the poet, mystic, or natural philosopher, she approaches our universe with reverence. Like the contemporary scientist, she is driven by a desire to understand.
Unnatural Science
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
The art in Unnatural Science exploits scientific narratives, practices and aesthetics. Humorous and irreverent, though scientifically well-informed, these recent installations, sculptures, video works, and photographs owe much to the playful art of Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Jarry and Raymond Roussel in their use of science as a springboard for fantasy. The explorations of botany, genetics, chemistry, physics and other sciences are both poetic and profound, beautiful and visionary. Drawn from the collections of artists, galleries and museums all over the world, the works in Unnatural Science hailed a significant trend in contemporary art - one that not only demystifies, but also poeticizes science.
Kiki Smith
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Forefront Gallery
Kiki Smith: Convergence
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Convergence was the first major solo exhibition in Ireland of the work of Kiki Smith, one of America's leading contemporary sculptors. Ranging over ten years of her work from 1988, it reflected her main concerns in subject matter, colour and materials, and includes a number of characteristic sculptures based on the human body. Drawings and mixed-media works from 1996 and '97 marking a shift in focus from human to animal forms and the natural world were also shown.
Kiki Smith: Reconstructing the Moon
Pace Gallery LLC
Paradise Cage: Kiki Smith and Coop Himmmelb(I)au
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Paradise Cage project derives its name from the miniature medieval devotional pictures of gardens of paradise, which are usually surrounded by a wall. For the cooperation between Wolf D. Prix and the artist Kiki Smith for an exhibition designed by Frank O. Gehry at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the experiment was undertaken to produce an “osmotic wall” between interior and exterior. The sculpture by Kiki Smith, though placed on the inside of the cage, breaks through its boundaries. A wall of cables, at once visible and invisible, is created, through which observers can see but not pass. The double-cone-shaped construction made from taut wire cable was directly related in form and positioning to the exhibition space designed by Frank O. Gehry, with its polyhedral ceiling and pyramid-like overhead light. The work by Kiki Smith, located on the floor directly under the window, could be observed from a heightened position via a wooden ramp that was part of Paradise Cage.
Recent Important Acquisitions (New Glass Review 35) (2014) illustrated, p. 126, left; BIB# AI98393
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2013 (2014) illustrated, pp. 60-61 (#41);
Recent Acquisitions (2013) illustrated, p. 14; BIB# AI95664
Kiki Smith: Constellation, June 9-October 28, 2007 (2007) illustrated, cover, pp. 1-2, 4; BIB# 110266
Kiki Smith (2005) illustrated, pp. 164-165; BIB# 90442
Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980-2005 (2005) illustrated, p. 71, fig. 28, installation view; BIB# 95972
Kiki Smith (2005) illustrated, pp. 164-165, installation views; BIB# 90442
Unnatural Science (2000) illustrated, pp. 50, 52-53, 96-97;
Kiki Smith: all creatures great and small (1999) illustrated, p. 26, detail; BIB# 64185
Kiki Smith (1998) illustrated, pp. 164-165; BIB# 68383
Kiki Smith: Convergence (1997) illustrated, no. 23, detail; BIB# 136686
Seeking Paradise in 'Cage (1996-11-28)BIB# AI98390
Paradise Cage: Kiki Smith and Coop Himmelb(l)au (1996) illustrated, p. iv, vi, 25-30; BIB# 105076