Eva Presenhuber presents Early Drawings 1976 – 1998, a solo exhibition by Karen Kilimnik at the New York space, presented jointly with Sprüth Magers in London. The show features the artist’s own rich and varied selection of over 50 previously unseen early works on paper. Detailed, finely-worked pastel drawings created between 1976 and 1998 are presented, along with ink drawings and other work from that same period; together they illuminate the scope, complexity, and virtuosity of Kilimnik’s thematic world.
For more than 40 years, Kilimnik has navigated an inexhaustible cosmos influenced by the traditions of Romantic painting, portraiture, and landscape painting. Her work gives equal weight to a broad array of subject matter, finding inspiration in such diverse sources as popular culture and fairy tales, Old Master paintings and television programs, films, literature, magazines, advertising, as well as window displays. The result dissolves the distinctions between “high” and “low” culture. This creative mixture appears in some of Kilimnik’s earliest output: after studying art and architecture in Philadelphia, the artist exhibited a series of genre-bending constellations in the mid-1980s and early 1990s; assembled works included paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and films. Her oeuvre explores themes of mythology and femininity, history and fiction.
Especially Kilimnik’s drawings and collages often emerge from general observation and contemplation. Exemplifying that approach is concord delirium race car driver – vrooom! (1982), a pastel, charcoal, and ink on paper piece inspired by a Vogue advertisement. Drawings and collages based on magazine adverts run throughout the artist’s oeuvre and appear in the exhibition at various intervals, for example, the drawings based on adverts for Rémy Martin Cognac or a Piaget watch. concord delirium race car driver – vrooom! evokes a feeling of dizziness one might experience when driving a car around the roundabout of the Place de la Concorde in Paris or on a race car track or mountain pass. Kilimnik, whose juvenile career considerations included becoming a race car driver, uses here an advertisement from the world of popular culture as a template and overlays it with her own imagination.
The accompanying exhibition at Sprüth Magers in London runs from April 8 to May 21, 2022. A catalogue for both shows will be published by Edition Patrick Frey.
Karen Kilimnik was born in 1955 in Philadelphia, PA, US, where she lives and works. Kilimnik’s work is represented in major museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, US; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, US. Kilimnik has been the subject of important solo exhibitions at institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO, US (2012); Belvedere, Vienna, AT (2010); Serpentine Gallery, London, UK; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA, US; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, US; the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, FL, US; Le Consortium, Dijon, FR (all 2007); the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, FR (2006); Istituzione Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice, IT (2005); and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, IE (2002). In 2018, Kilimnik participated in the 57th Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, US; and has been featured in significant group exhibitions at institutions including Fondazione Prada, Venice, IT (2021); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, US (2016, 2008, 1993); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, NL; MoMA PS1, New York, NY, US (both 2006); the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US (2005, 2001, 1999); Institute of Contemporary Art, London, UK (1997, 1992); and Secession, Vienna, AT (1994). In 2011, Kilimnik created the sets for the ballet Psyché, staged by the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, Palais Garnier, Paris, FR.
Installation view, Karen Kilimnik, Early Drawings 1976–1998, Eva Presenhuber, New York, 2022 © Karen Kilimnik. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber. Photo: Lance Brewer