The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton at PBICA

The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton at PBICA

Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art

December 10, 2002

The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton at PBICA
3 December 2002 - 23 March 2003

Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art

Tony Smith, Cross, 1960-62; Seton Smith, Outer Room with Doors, 1997; Kiki Smith, Eve, 2001


LAKE WORTH, FL. December 10, 2002 For the first time, major works by the renowned modernist artist Tony Smith and his daughters Chiara (Kiki) and Seton will be assembled under one roof. The occasion is The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton on view at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art from December 3, 2002 to March 23, 2003. The exhibition has been organized by the Palm Beach ICA.

Taking as its starting point one American family, two generations of the vanguard, three distinct visions, and an extensive range of media, the loan survey will explore the imagery and concerns of these three artists.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a fully illustrated book designed by the innovative design team, COMA, of Amsterdam and New York. The publication, also entitled The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton will feature essays by writers Eleanor Heartney, Adrian Dannatt and David Pagel; an essay by Michael Rush, director of the Palm Beach ICA; and an essay and interviews with Kiki and Seton Smith and their mother Jane Smith by the Paris, France- and Palm Beach-based curator Gilbert Brownstone, who conceived and organized the exhibition for the museum.

It is difficult to find a common thread in the art of Tony, Kiki and Seton Smith, said Mr. Brownstone. But, in fact, it was this wide range of content, approach, and sensibility, as well as the intensity of concentration each artist brings to the task of making art, that attracted me to this exhibition project. I believe that this showing of sculptures, drawings, photographs and prints will prove to be a revelation for viewers. PBICA Director Michael Rush added, This is an extraordinary opportunity for our visitors to experience the breadth of such influential work emanating from the same family. The show will remind us how closely connected art and personal life can be.

Kiki Smith (1954 – ) says of her father in Tony Smith: Architect, Painter, Sculptor (1998), published by The Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name: He was my model of being an artist in his devotion, perseverance and commitment to his vision, and how that defines ones daily life.

Tony Smith (1912-1980) is renowned today for the large-scale abstract sculptures he created in the last 20 years of his life. Yet the true nature of his achievements as an architect, painter, and sculptor, is more nuanced. This complexity may be suggested by his career trajectory from early drawing, painting and anatomy lessons at the Art Students League in New York, to courses in architecture and design at the New Bauhaus, to an apprenticeship with Frank Lloyd Wright, and a private practice as an architect. Tony Smiths last built project, completed in 1960, was a modernist studio structure in Southold, Long Island, designed for the artist and gallerist Betty Parsons.

The portion of The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton focusing on the work of Tony Smith features a series of sculptures created during the years following the close of his architectural practice, when he mined the possibilities of the cubic form in two-and three-dimensions. On view will be such geometrically configured sculptures, cast in bronze with a black patina, as Marriage (1961); Cross (1960-62); Mistake (1963); and The Fourth Sign, (1974).

Also on view will be a selection of paintings and drawing and several of the cardboard models the artist created as maquettes for his large-scale pieces. Two large-scale works fabricated of steel will be displayed; The Keys to Given! (1965), in the museum galleries and Duck (1962), in a public site in downtown Lake Worth, Florida.

For more than two decades, Kiki Smith has drawn on mythic, folk and biblical stories to create work in a dizzying array of media and installation forms: from sculptural works and installations incorporating bronze, wax, glass, paper, fabric, beads, and many other materials to photographs, prints and drawings and video and sound works. The portion of this exhibition focusing on her vision will feature a range of works, from the bronze sculpture, Head with Bird (1994), and three-dimensional fiber work, Body (1995), to the 2002 series, Moon on Crutches, as well as a series of drawings and prints.

Kiki Smiths younger sister, Seton Smith (1955-), is well known for her large-format Cibachrome photographs of interiors–seemingly banal, often blurry, and sometimes off-balanced or truncated. The artist has spoken of her wish to suggest a particular awareness of the psychology of architectural space. Critic David Pagel has written that her photographs are portals to a seemingly magical world where common objects are suffused with more intrigue and enchantment than their literal, physical form would ordinarily indicate.

The centerpiece of the exhibition section devoted to Seton Smith comprises a series of recent, large-scale color photographs. These 72×48-format images enigmatically interweave an image of an anonymous interior and staircase with a picture of fir trees in winter and a view of an ancient-seeming Middle Eastern city seen at roofline level.

Gilbert Brownstone, the organizer of The Smiths: Tony, Kiki, Seton is the former Creative Director of Brownstone & Cie, Director and Curator of the Musée Picasso di Antibes, and Curator of Musée dArt Modern de la Ville de Paris. In 1999, Mr. Brownstone established the Brownstone Foundation, an organization primarily devoted to the arts and humanities, which he directs today.

Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art

Cited for its daring programme by The Art Newspaper (April 2002), the Palm Beach ICA aims to serve as a place where large questions are posed and investigated; as a venue for major national and international art in all media; and as a meeting ground for the diverse populations who live in and visit the Palm Beach region. This exhibition and museum programs of the Palm Beach ICA are generously supported by Robert M. and Mary Montgomery.

PBICA is located at 601 Lake Avenue in Lake Worth, Fla. Hours are Tues-Sun, 12-6pm. Admission: $3; $2, seniors and students. For more information, the public may call the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art at 561-582-0006, or visit

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December 10, 2002

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