Kenyon College

Octapussy, Woman with Owl, Sphinx, Tail


Artist: Kiki Smith
Title of Work: Octapussy
Year: 1998
Dimensions: 7″ x16″ x 2″ 
 Phosbronze sculpture, edition of 13
Photo Line: Courtesy of the artist and Pace Editions, New York 
Collection Credit: Pace Prints, New York

These four sculptures, made of diverse materials, address similar issues of the body and manipulation. Smith first sculpted a tailbone sculpture in 1993 as a part of a series of bronze multiples.  Much of Smith’s early work focuses on the body, both inside and out.  By placing the internal elements of the human body in an isolated and abnormal setting, the sculptures deprive them of their vitality and transform them into discrete objects.  Smith plays with this idea of objectification by giving her pieces a practical purpose; Tail, a glass cast of a tailbone, also serves as a paperweight.   The other sculptures come from a playful impulse in Smith’s art.  These pieces combine multiple creatures in new and interesting ways.  Octopussy depicts an animal that is half octopus, half cat.  Sphinx mimics the Egyptian tradition of pairing a human head with a lion’s body.  Woman with Owl is a woman’s body holding an owl aloft, the two melding together in sections.  All of these hybrid creatures are seamless, as if the two species came together as one united being in an organic manner.  In these sculptures Smith transforms the imagination to reality.  Smith’s whimsical creatures contrast the traditional idea that mutated beings are monstrous, fitting the abnormal into the spectrum of the natural world.
Octapussy, Woman with Owl, Sphinx, Tail
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