Kiki Smith - Tony Smith - Seton Smith
Tony Smith, Cigarette, 1961, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d'art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Kiki Smith, Born, 2002, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d’art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Tony Smith, The Keys to Given!, 1965, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d'art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Kiki Smith, Annunciation, 2008, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d'art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Seton Smith, Falling Trees #3, 2006, Série Avalanche Creek, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d'art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Tony Smith, view Exhibition, hall of the Museum les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Toulouse International Art Festival, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Tony Smith, Die, 1962. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Toulouse International Art Festival, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
Seton Smith, Sign, 2012, Les Abattoirs. Photo Nicolas Brasseur, Festival international d'art de Toulouse, 2013 ©Le Printemps de septembre
American artist Tony Smith would have been 100 in 2012. To mark the occasion, Friedrich Meschede, director of the Kunsthalle in Bielefeld (Germany), decided to bring his works together with those of his two daughters, Kiki and Seton, in a single exhibition. This presentation formed the basis of the exhibition project for Les Abattoirs, which is augmented by a sizeable selection of drawings, sculptures and photos by Kiki and Seton Smith and three big sculptures by Tony Smith, occupying the main hall of the museum.
Though linked with the Minimalists, Tony Smith belongs to the Abstract Expressionist generation. Close to Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock, he developed a practice as a painter while working as an architect.
The exhibition at Les Abattoirs reflects the two-way influences between his architecture and his painting. He began his career as an office employee working with Frank Lloyd Wright before eventually setting up on his own. During the 1940s and 50s several commissions indicate his closeness to the Abstract Expressionists, notably the studios built for the painter Theodoros Stamos and the artist and gallerist Betty Parsons, and the chapel (unbuilt) he designed to house stained glass windows by Jackson Pollock.
Smith’s own painting, which nevertheless prefigures his modular approach to sculpture, did not win him the same recognition as his architectural work. In fact, his
Louisenberg series (1953-55), which visitors can see at Les Abattoirs, shown only once the in the legendary show at MoMA “The Art of the Real” (1968), was the last of his painted work to be exhibited in his lifetime.
In 1961 Tony Smith began concentrating exclusively on sculpture. One of his first pieces, Die (1962), a black cube measuring 6 x 6 x 6 feet, is an icon of 20th-century art. When asked about the size of the object by Robert Morris, he said that he did not want to make “either a monument or an object.” This is indicative of the method that his work would now adopt.
His daughters Kiki and Seton grew up in the family home in New Jersey surrounded by their father’s sculptures and expressionist works by the great painters of the day, who were friends of the family. Jane, their mother, was an actor and opera singer. In this world where art was all and everything, Seton soon developed an interest in the visual arts while Kiki began thinking of a career in the crafts, before later turning to sculpture.
At a young age, Seton started photographing architectural features such as windows, corridors and staircases, which she showed in large-format polyptychs. The question of space is at the heart of her work, whether the physical space of a given location or the space delimited by the movements of the camera. But whereas most so-called architectural photography magnifies the buildings, Seton’s vision was dreamlike, infused with memories of the family home, but devoid of human subjects.
Conversely, the human body, and the female body in particular, is a recurring motif in Kiki Smith’s work. She came to international attention in the early 1980s after
her first exhibition at MoMA. Her work, too, draws on childhood memories, but in her case these autobiographical elements are given a symbolic, figurative dimension. Since the 1990s a stronger narrative dimension has crept into her art, with some works referring directly to biblical or mythological figures.
Tony Smith was born in 1912 in Orange, New Jersey, died in 1980. Although his career as a sculptor lasted only fifteen years, Tony Smith has participated in several historical exhibitions such as Scale as content with Ronald Bladen and Barnett Newman at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington in 1967, Primary Structures in 1966 at Jewish Museum in New York or Black, White and Gray at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut in 1964, considered as the first exhibition of minimal art. His works have been particularly exposed to the Venice Biennale and Documenta 4 in Kassel in 1968.
A retrospective exhibition was devoted to his work in 1998 at MoMA in New York Tony Smith: Architect, Painter, Sculptor.
Kiki Smith was born in 1954 in Nuremberg, Germany. Lives and works in New York. Kiki Smith gained international recognition in 1990 with his first exhibition at MOMA. Since then, his work has been the subject of many exhibitions such as the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 1992, the Power Plant in Toronto in 1994, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in 1997, at MoMA in New York for the second time in 2003 at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston and the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis in 2006.
Seton Smith was born in 1955 in Newark, New Jersey. Lives and works in Paris and New York. Seton Smith has exhibited extensively in the United States but also in France where she spends part of his time since 1985. His works are part of the collections of Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, FRAC Bretagne or FRAC Champagne Ardenne. In the United States several monographic exhibitions have been devoted to his work as including the Whitney Museum of New York in 1998.