America artist Karen Kilimnik’s paintings recall the work of painters from the 16th through to the 19th centuries. Her mise-en-scene approach is inspired by specific rooms in stately homes, horse riding, Tudor architecture and the occult.
The Karen Kilimnik exhibition featured over 50 of the artist’s paintings and drawings from the past decade, as well as recent installations staged according to her fascination with historical allegories.
The artist has said of her work: Being so inspired by fairy tales, mysteries, books, TV shows and ballets etc. I like to make up characters myself as if I’m a playwright and these are characters and scenes I invented or observed… So I’ll see a picture of someone or something in a photo or a painting and cast them in my so-called play as a character I’ve made up or sometimes borrowed.
Kilimnik’s works mix contemporary and historical references; her painting entitled Prince Desirée on a break from Sleeping Beauty Out at Petrossian’s for dinner, 1998, is a portrait of Leonardo DiCaprio as the star of Sleeping Beauty. The artist cites artists such as the British painters Henry Raeburn and George Stubbs as well as French rococo painter Jean-Baptiste Oudry as significant influences. Kilimnik’s paintings are small, intimate works that draw on the artist’s interests in everything from mysteries and fairy tales, opera and ballet, to cultural icons and art history.
To accompany the exhibition the Serpentine Gallery published Period Eye: Karen Kilimnik’s Fancy Pictures, a conversation between Scott Rothkopf and Meredith Martin.
Kilimnik’s work has been seen in major solo exhibitions at the Palazzetto Tito, and at the Historisches Museum, Haus zum Kirschgarten, Basel, both in 2005, and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, in 2002. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, will also present a major survey of her work in April 2007. The artist lives and works in Philadelphia.
The exhibition was organised by the Serpentine Gallery in association with the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris/ARC.