Karen Kilimnik’s artist’s book Early Drawings 1976–1998 is kind of a prequel to Kilimnik’s Drawings, also published by Edition Patrick Frey in 1997. Early Drawings 1976–1998 brings together the artist’s own rich and varied selection of around 130 never before published early works on paper. Detailed, finely worked pastel drawings created between 1976 and 1998 are presented along with ink drawings and other work from that same period; together they illuminate the scope, complexity and virtuosity of Kilimnik’s thematic world.
For more than forty years, Kilimnik has navigated an inexhaustible cosmos influenced by the traditions of Romantic painting, portraiture, and landscape painting. Her work gives equal weight to a broad array of subject matter, finding inspiration in such diverse sources as popular culture and fairy tales, Old Master paintings and television programs, films, literature, magazines, advertising, as well as window displays. The result dissolves the distinctions between “high” and “low” culture. This creative mixture appears in some of Kilimnik’s earliest output: after studying art and architecture in Philadelphia, the artist exhibited a series of genre-bending constellations in the mid-1980s and early 1990s; assembled works included paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, and films. Her oeuvre explores themes of mythology and femininity, history and fiction.
Early Drawings 1976–1998 is published on the occassion of a double exhibition bearing the same title at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in New York and at Sprüth Magers in London, which was shown in early summer 2022.