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Reading List – Kiki Smith: I am a Wanderer

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Powerful women, fantastical animals, medieval imagery and storytelling are celebrated in this reading list inspired by the exhibition Kiki Smith: I am a Wanderer, on view at Modern Art Oxford until 19 January 2020.

Immerse yourself in nature, celebrate great women past and present, and consider how artists like Kiki Smith blur the distinction between art and life through different mediums including sculpture, tapestry and printmaking.

You can browse and purchase many of these titles in the Modern Art Oxford Shop.

Forms of Enchantment by Marina Warner (2018)

Images have power and can have an active impact on the world. Looking at the work of several artists, including Kiki Smith, Warner explores how artists consciously catalyse that power.


Trickster Feminism by Anne Waldman (2018)

Waldman’s poetry, which has inspired several of Kiki Smith’s sculptures, combines feminist history, mythology, and political protest.


Procession by Kiki Smith (2018)

Kiki Smith’s work deals powerfully with the political, social, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of human nature, especially in the way they relate to women. This catalogue, edited by Modern Art Oxford’s guest curator Dr Petra Giloy-Hirtz, provides a comprehensive overview of Smith’s artistic development, above all in sculpture, from the early 1980s to the present day.


The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine by Rozsika Parker (1984; new edition 2012)

Parker’s study continues to inform how we consider the role of embroidery in Western culture, the construction of femininity and the practice of craft as a weapon of resistance to the constraints of women’s disenfranchisement.


Hope is the Thing with Feathers. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (2019)

In 2007, Smith produced a series of prints to illustrate the work of the nineteenth century poet Emily Dickinson. Both Smith and Dickinson tell stories by conjuring images from the natural world and our relationship to nature.


Life Like: Sculpture, Color and the Body (2018)

How can sculpture and colour evoke the presence of a living body? This book examines sculptural works from the European Renaissance to the global present, from Donatello to Picasso, Kiki Smith and Jeff Koons, revealing new insights into the strategies artists deploy to blur the distinction between art and life.


Concordance by Kiki Smith and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (2006)

CONCORDANCE is a collaboration by three acclaimed contemporary artists: poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Kiki Smith and book artist Anne McKeown. Inspired by Smith’s image of a dandelion, the poem traces the relationships between human and animal bodies, ideas, dreams and emotions.


Body of Art (2015)

This book examines the many different manifestations of the human body in art. Spanning western and non-western, ancient to contemporary, representative to abstract and conceptual, it explores identity, beauty, religion, the absent body, sex and gender, power, the body’s limits, the abject body and the body in space.


Medieval Modern: Art Out of Time by Alexander Nagel (2012)

Explore the deep connections between modern and pre-modern art, and discover the underlying patterns and ideas covering centuries of artistic practice.


Book of Beasts – The Bestiary in the Medieval World by Elizabeth Morrison and Larisa Grollemond (2019)

Brimming with lively animals both real and fantastic, the bestiary was one of the great illuminated manuscript traditions of the Middle Ages. This book explores the bestiary and its widespread influence on medieval art and culture as well as on modern and contemporary artists like Pablo Picasso and Damien Hirst.


Women, Art and Society (World of Art) by Whitney Chadwick (1990; 5th edition 2012)

This 5th edition of one of the best-selling World of Art titles features a completely new chapter that charts the evolution of feminist art history and pedagogy since the 1970s, revealing how artists have developed and subverted the strategies of feminism.


Late Medieval and Renaissance Textiles by Rosamund Garrett and Matthew Reeves (2018)

Late Medieval textiles were often made following designs supplied by the leading painters of their age. It is no surprise that Kiki Smith’s digitally produced tapestries were inspired by her own visit to the fourteenth-century Apocalypse tapestry in Angers, France. Learn more about these remarkable works within their wider cultural contexts.


Perspectives on Contemporary Printmaking: Critical Writing since 1986, Ruth Pelzer-Montada (ed.) (2018)

This anthology presents texts on contemporary prints and printmaking written from the mid-1980s to the present by authors from across the world. The texts range from history and criticism to creative writing.


Foxfire, Wolfskin, and other Stories of Shapeshifting Women by Sharon Blackie (2019)

Much like Smith’s works, this collection weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. Immerse yourself in the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of shapeshifting women.


Read more about Kiki Smith: I am a Wanderer here.

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