|Field||Painting, Installation art|
|Training||Temple University, Philadelphia|
Life and work
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 has had solo shows at:
- 303 Gallery, New York (1991,1993,1995,1997,1999,2001,2002,2006,2008,2011)
- Sprüth Magers Berlin London
- The White Cube, London (1994)
The South London Gallery (2000)
- The Irish Museum of Modern Art, with publication by Caoimhin MacGiolla Leith, Dublin
- The Serpentine Gallery, London (2007)
- The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Philadelphia (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
- Karen Kilimnik (ed. Lionel Bovier), Zurich: JRP/Ringier (2006).
Notes and references
- William Hanley (May 8, 2007), Philadelphia: Kilimnik Installations, Homage to the Blues, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-22
- Smith, Roberta. "Art in Review: Karen Kilimnik", The New York Times, February 12, 1999.
- Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, July 1, 2000.
- Holland Cotter, Art in Review: Karen Kilimnik, The New York Times, October 13, 2006.
- Laura Cummings, The Kitsch is Back, The Observer, March 4, 2007.
- Ritchie, Abraham (2008-04-04). "Reconsidering Karen Kilimnik". The Chicago Art Blog. Retrieved 2011-08-08.