Well-known as a sculptor, Kiki Smith has also worked extensively as a printmaker – in fact her printed works and other editioned art, including books and multiples, are arguably as important as her sculpture. Smith emerged in the early 1980s as one of a generation of artists who returned to figurative imagery after a period in which American art had leaned to the abstract and conceptual.
In Smith’s case the interest in the figure was literal: She is fascinated by the anatomy of the human body, which is an immediate and emotionally powerful presence in much of her work. She is equally concerned with the natural world, and animals have become increasingly important in her recent imagery. The heart of printmaking is the ability to create more than one example of an artwork, and this appeals to Smith’s interest in the public dissemination of imagery and information.
Her work is politically sensitized but she is also fascinated by craft and is constantly exploring and experimenting with her materials. Her prolific body of printed art incorporates techniques extending from elaborate etchings to crude rubber stamps and images ranging from wall-sized lithographs and deluxe artist’s books to screen-printed giveaway posters and removable tattoos.