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Artist
Kiki Smith
Title
Flock
Date
2005
Medium
mixed media on paper
Dimensions
Image: 19 3/4 × 73 1/4 inches (50.2 × 186.1 cm)Framed: 23 × 76 1/4 × 1 1/2 inches (58.4 × 193.7 × 3.8 cm)
Tags
Mixed Media
Credit Line
Kirk Varnedoe Collection, Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia, Gift of the Artist.
Accession Number
2006.24
Kiki Smith was born into an artistic family: her father, Tony Smith, was a sculptor, and her mother, Jane Lawrence Smith, was an opera singer and an actress. Raised in New Jersey and educated at the Hartford Art School, Smith has worked extensively in sculpture, printmaking, photography, and drawing, among other media. Her work is noted for its use of unconventional materials (blood, glass, embroidery) and its focus on the human body and the natural world. References to anatomy, reproduction, and bodily fluids abound in Smith’s work, which has been collected by some of the most highly regarded institutions in the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Modern and Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and many others.

Flock, in the Varnedoe Collection, illustrates the artist’s concern with the relationship between mankind and the natural world. Smith has put gold and silver paint onto the bodies of dead birds, then pressed the birds onto a sheet of paper in a neat, orderly row. The sixteen bird shapes are each unique, and the marks they make on the paper reveals the fragility of their feathers, beaks, and feet. The cause of the deaths of these birds has not been assigned, but the marks on the paper have clearly been deliberately placed by human hands.