Untitled (Torso)

Accession Number

Untitled (Torso)

Kiki Smith

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
lithograph on paper

32 3/16 in x 21 ⅛ in (81.76 cm x 53.66 cm);39 ⅜ in x 28 ¼ in (100.01 cm x 71.75 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by a gift from Helmut Stern

Label copy
Having created images since 1979 that refer to the body, Kiki Smith falls within a long tradition in Western art. What is new in her work is her choice to represent the body in a visceral way, almost from the inside out, upending traditional classical and Christian concepts of the body. In all of her work, Smith reveres the body, especially the female body. It may be imperfect but it is always beautiful. Smith capitalizes on the ability of the body to seduce its viewer, but then she startles that viewer with her use of the raw and uncompromising. Often presenting the simple physicality of the body, she chooses to focus on the body’s fluids, it’s life forces: sweat, saliva, secretions, sperm, and urine. Vulnerable yet assertive, Smith’s images of the body are not objects for erotic consumption but instead for contemplation.
In Untitled (Torso), the viewer is presented with a somewhat andro-gynous image of a female torso. Rather than a full torso with legs and arms, this torso is simply the abdomen; no sides or extensions are presented. Instead, every hair of the body is clearly demarcated, calling attention to this overlooked aspect of a woman’s body. Hovering in the viewer’s space, this image is both present and not, emerging from and disappearing into the background.
"I think I chose the body as a subject, not consciously, but because it is the one form that we all share," Smith has said. "[I]t’s something that everybody has their own authentic experience with."
Sean M. Ulmer, University Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for "A Matter of Degree: Abstraction in Twentieth-Century Art," November 10, 2001 - January 27, 2002

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

modern and contemporary art

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved