Karen Kilimnik's artist's book Early Drawings 1976–1998 brings together the artist's own rich and varied selection of around 130 never before published 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 forty 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.
Published following the double eponymous exhibition at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, New York, and Sprüth Magers, London, in 2022.
Karen Kilimnik (*1955) lives and works in Philadelphia.
In the 1980s her narrative and jumbled installations were compared by the critics to the “scatter art” of the previous decade, but have become cult for a younger generation of artists and exhibition curators. Her drawings and paintings from the beginning of the 1990s were included in the then current discussions on art and glamour, and on the emergence of women artists whose sensibility was not that of feminist theory. The source of numerous misunderstandings, the diversity of her work has veiled the internal coherence of a practice of which the most recent pieces attest to the continuous links between all these mediums.