|Education||Temple University, Philadelphia|
|Known for||Painting, Installation art|
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?"
303 Gallery 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
- 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
- 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 
- 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.
- Nora Burnett Abrams, Karen Kilimnik's Dusk, Report from the Department of Fabrications, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Spring 2013