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Karen Kilimnik

American artist
The basics
Occupation Painter
Country United States of America
Date of birth Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Education Temple University
Authority ISNI id VIAF id Library of congress id
The details

Karen Kilimnik (born 1955 in Philadelphia) is an American painter and installation artist.

Life and work

Born to single father of 6, Jason Kilimnik, Karen travelled through much of the United States and Canada as a young child. She often spoke of Russell, Manitoba as being an inspiration for her later works. Karen Kilimnik studied at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Her installations reflected a young viewpoint of pop culture. An example of this work is her 1989 breakout The Hellfire Club Episode of the Avengers, which is composed of photocopied images, clothing, drawings, and other objects that reverentially embody the glamour, risk, and mod kitsch of the 1960s television show. The work exemplified the “scatter” style of her installations.

Kilimnik's paintings, characterised by loose brushwork, bold colors and "thrift shop paint-by-numbers awkwardness", are pastiches of the Old Masters and often incorporate portraits of celebrities. In contrast to the celebrity portraits of Elizabeth Peyton, Kilimnik, "blends together Conceptual and performance art and 1980's appropriation with the current interest in female psychology and identity." Jonathan Jones described her portrait of Hugh Grant (1997) as "a nice example of a relatively new genre of painting, which we might call the iconic portrait, not commissioned by its sitter but based on photographs, magazine cuttings, film clips."

Her work is variously described as "sharp and witty...an interesting exercise in conceptual control" and as "wan and whimsical...Why does anyone want to make them? Why does any self-respecting painter ever set out to be feeble?"


Kilimnik's has work in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.


303 Gallery Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

  • April 1991
  • December 1993 to January 1994
  • November to December 1995
  • September to October 1997
  • February to March 1999
  • January to February 2001
  • February to March 2002
  • September to November 2006
  • January to February 2008
  • March to April 2011

Group Exhibitions

  • A Broken Arm, July to August 2006
  • Brave New Year, January 2007
  • Within Hours We Would Be In The Middle Of Nowhere, July to August 2003
  • Karen Kilimnik and Kim Gordon, September 2012
  • The Perfect Show, November 2012 to January 2013

Other Exhibitions

  • The Legacy, White Cube, London (October to December 1994)
  • Karen Kilimnik: Solo Exhibition, South London Gallery, London (July 2000)
  • Basel Historical Museum, Basel, May to July 2005
  • Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, (June to October 2005)
  • Karen Kilimnik: Fairy Battle Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (February 2003)
  • Karen Kilimnik, The Serpentine Gallery, London (February to April 2007)
  • Karen Kilimnik, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Philadelphia (April to August 2007), curated by Ingrid Schaffner This exhibition, the first significant survey of Kilimnik’s paintings and installation-based work since the late 1980s, traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in 2008.
  • The Powel House/Landmarks Contemporary Projects, Philadelphia (2007), curated by Robert Wuilfe
  • Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik's World of Ballet and Theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, Colorado, curated by Nora Burnett-Abrams, 2013

Notes and references

The contents of this page are sourced from a Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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