Kiki Smith


Not on view



Phosphorus bronze and white bronze

Dimensions variable

Accession number

Unique in a series of 4 and 1 AP

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Leonard A. Lauder, President

Rights and reproductions
© Kiki Smith, courtesy of Pace Gallery, N.Y.


Originally titled Four Hands and Eyes, Kiki Smith’s sculpture Witness consists of four bronze hands, placed side by side in a line, each cradling a single eye in its cupped palm. The artist, however, has stripped each eye of its external structure, choosing only to depict the muscles working underneath the surface. By reducing the human body to these two forms, Smith emphasizes the function of each, while simultaneously creating a new association between these traditionally disparate body parts. These four similar but irregular objects also evoke the rhythms and repetitions found throughout the body—its heartbeat, molecular structure, and symmetry. By recontextualizing basic forms of the human body, Smith hopes to compel her viewers to examine their own bodies in new and unexpected ways, thus offering a unique and participatory experience with her work. The artist’s decision to change the title to Witness upon its entry into the Whitney’s collection amplifies the sculpture’s sense of ambiguity, and may further reflect her desire to activate the relationship between her work and its audience. Eager to discover who is the witness, or indeed, what is being witnessed, the viewer is encouraged to more closely examine Smith’s unusual juxtaposition of human forms.