Kiki Smith, Untitled, 1990. Beeswax and microcrystalline wax figures on metal stands: female figure, 73 1/2 in. (186.7 cm) high; male figure 76 15/16 in. (195.4 cm) high. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee 91.13a-d
LAWRENCERINDER: This untitled work by Kiki Smith consists of two wax figures that are attached to metal poles and seem to be hung, or float off the ground. Their bodies are limp and look as if they’ve perhaps been traumatized or abused in some way.
MAXWELLANDERSON: Lawrence Rinder is the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator of Contemporary Art.
LAWRENCERINDER: Kiki Smith has used wax to create these figures and it endows the figures with an almost uncanny sense of physical truthfulness. In fact, there’s something almost grotesque about the realism of her description of these bodies.
You know, I think that she is very interested in mythology and in some of the darker undercurrents of human society and culture and I think by presenting the figures in this way, she is implicitly asking the question, “Why are they hanging here? Who would hang them this way? How is it that they’ve come to be, in this state?” And she doesn’t provide any answers to that but simply opens the door to for us to consider some of the darker undercurrents of human mind.