Karen Kilimnik

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Karen Kilimnik
Born 1955 (age 62–63)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Nationality American
Education Temple University, Philadelphia
Known for Painting, Installation art

Karen Kilimnik (born 1955, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) is an American painter and installation artist.

Life and work[edit]

Karen traveled 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.[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]


303 Gallery exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 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[edit]

  • Gavin Brown, Karen Kilimnik, and Sue Williams, 303 Gallery, New York, 1990
  • Plastic Fantastic Lover, BlumHelman Warehouse, New York, 1991
  • Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?, Hyde Collection, Glens Falls, New York, 1991
  • Karen Kilimnik, Raymond Pettibon and Allen Ruppersberg, 303 Gallery, New York, 1991
  • No Man's Time, Villa Arson, Nice, France, 1991
  • Small Medium Large: Life Size, Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato, Italy, 1992
  • Post Human, FAE, Museé d'Art Contemporain, Lausanne, Switzerland, 1992
  • Investigations 1992, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1992
  • Works on Paper, Luhring Augustine, New York, 1992
  • Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1993
  • Travelogue-Reisetagebuch, Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna, Austria 1993
  • Documentario 2, Spazio Opos, Milan, Italy, 1993
  • Teddy and Other Stories, Claudio Bottello, Turin, Italy, 1993
  • Secession, Vienna, Austria, 1994
  • Within Hours We Would Be In The Middle Of Nowhere, July to August 2003
  • A Broken Arm, July to August 2006
  • Brave New Year, January 2007
  • Karen Kilimnik and Kim Gordon, September 2012
  • The Perfect Show, November 2012 to January 2013

Other exhibitions[edit]


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


  1. ^ William Hanley (May 8, 2007), Philadelphia: Kilimnik Installations, Homage to the Blues, ARTINFO, retrieved 2008-04-22 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Roberta. "Art in Review: Karen Kilimnik", The New York Times, February 12, 1999.
  3. ^ Jonathan Jones, The Guardian, July 1, 2000.
  4. ^ Holland Cotter, 'Art in Review: Karen Kilimnik', The New York Times, October 13, 2006
  5. ^ Laura Cummings, "The Kitsch is Back", The Observer, March 4, 2007.
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ [2][dead link]
  8. ^ [3][dead link]
  9. ^ "Karen Kilimnik". Serpentinegallery.org. Retrieved 31 December 2017. 
  10. ^ Ritchie, Abraham (2008-04-04). "Reconsidering Karen Kilimnik". The Chicago Art Blog. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  11. ^ Nora Burnett Abrams, Karen Kilimnik's Dusk, Report from the Department of Fabrications, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Spring 2013

External links[edit]