Critics’ Picks

View of “Kiki Smith and Betty Woodman,” 2016.

View of “Kiki Smith and Betty Woodman,” 2016.


Betty Woodman and Kiki Smith

Galleria Lorcan O'Neill
Vicolo dei Catinari 3
September 21–November 19, 2016

Exhibiting together for the first time, Betty Woodman and Kiki Smith initiate an intense dialogue through a selection of their large-scale paintings, tapestries, sculptures, and graphics. Along the long walls of the main gallery, Smith’s atonal and transcendent works interface with Woodman’s colorful and flamboyant vision of domestic interiors, creating a complete visual imbalance that dwells, respectively, on natural landscapes and private imaginative spaces.

Four large canvases by Woodman (Summer Tea Party, 2015; Reversal, 2016; Betty’s Room, 2011; Table and Rug, 2016) are characterized by the presence of vases and fabrics created in ceramic; resting on the floor or suspended in the air, they emerge from the pictorial compositions with a powerful chromatic resonance. Two jacquard tapestries by Smith, one depicting a deer (Fortune, 2014) and the other featuring two eagles (Guide, 2012), alternate rhythmically with four bronze sculptures depicting three birds of prey (Roost, Mantle, and Perch, all 2016) as well as a fox (Visit, 2014), the latter hovering on a precarious support. These works direct the viewer’s eye toward Smith’s large collage of women, composed on a support of Nepalese paper (Gathering, 2014).

The exhibition continues with separate groupings of their work. A series of six still lifes by Woodman, painted in mixed media on paper (dating from the past thirteen years), recall the artist’s early works that emphasize functionality. The show concludes with works by Smith—a new series of works in graphite and gold leaf and a bronze dove in flight. Finally, the gallery’s outdoor atrium contains a bronze bench designed by Woodman (Bronze Bench #3, 2003), on which the two artists sat for a photo that was sent to announce this wonderful show.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.