Karen Kilimnik, friends in the woods (2010), via Sprüth Magers
Marking an intriguing engagement with the language and history of drawing, Sprüth Magers is currently presenting The Kingdom of the Renaissance, an exhibition of works by Karen Kilimnik and her old master predecessors, curated by Mireille Mosler. Inspired by a variety of sources, from old masters to present day, Kilimnik conjoins components while constructing her own universe. From depictions of royal menageries of the Renaissance through public figures’ pooches, the artist filters her inner imaginary world through source material procured from books and museum exhibitions.
Karen Kilimnik, The Kingdom of the Renaissance (Installation View), via Sprüth Magers
The show makes for a fascinating study, alternating between an examined parallel between the artist and her interpreted materials, the artist’s own history, and that of Renaissance art in tandem. Early works on paper from the 1980s and more recent paintings are paired with Renaissance sculptures, paintings and drawings from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, focused in particular on animals and other non-human subjects. Animals in Kilimnik’s world are actors in their own universe, substituting princesses and movie stars.
Karen Kilimnik, the happy weeds +insects in the field on a summer day (2008), via Sprüth Magers
Kilimnik’s work makes much of the notion of encounter with these historical antecedents, opening continuums and points of cross-pollination or exchange across time. Rather than merely used the past as a mode of study and stylistic renewal, the artist’s works are placed on even ground with these earlier works. There is no contiguity in Kilimnik’s encounters with old masters: it is her fictitious fantasy that jumps the narrative and makes us believe you can be in any existence of your own choosing. Kilimnik’s Christmas reindeer meets The Highland Nurses by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–1873), while her sea horses encounter a Renaissance bronze of a sea monster, and Napoleon + favorite camel, Hector at the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, a pastel from 1987, is shown alongside a cavalryman by French academician Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815–1891) providing us a construed narrative as we enter Kilimnik’s kingdom.
The show closes March 18th.
– D. Creahan
Karen Kilimnik at Sprüth Magers [Exhibition Site]
on Thursday, February 2nd, 2023 at 12:27 pm and is filed under Art News, Featured Post, Show.
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