Karen Kilimnik

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Karen Kilimnik
Born 1955
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Field Painting, Installation art
Training Temple University, Philadelphia

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

Life and work[edit]

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.[1]

Kilimnik's paintings, characterised by loose brushwork, bold colors and "thrift shop paint-by-numbers awkwardness",[2] 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."[2] 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."[3]

Her work is variously described as "sharp and witty...an interesting exercise in conceptual control"[4] and as "wan and whimsical...Why does anyone want to make them? Why does any self-respecting painter ever set out to be feeble?"[5]


Kilimnik's has work in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art,[6] the Carnegie Museum of Art[7] and the Whitney Museum of American Art.[8]


Kilimnik has had solo shows at:


  • Karen Kilimnik (ed. Lionel Bovier), Zurich: JRP/Ringier (2006).

Notes and references[edit]

External links[edit]