Bruce Silverstein Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of works by multi-disciplinary artist Keith A. Smith. The booth will feature artist books, as well as photographic, fabric, and collage works and sculpture. Since the mid 1960s, Keith Smith has taken a non-purist approach to photography and book making. Smith's disinterest in categorizing his work set him apart from his peers and made him a rogue member of both the photography and printmaking departments at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Smith has sewn his photographs into quilts, explored etching, drawing and transferring his images to shoes and fabrics, but sequencing his images in a “book experience” has remained a priority throughout his career. Smith's interest in experimenting with new material and technological processes has resulted in over 280 unique artist books, where the physical object is as important as its content. His works are often radical departures from conventional books–made of string or covered in fabric, they unfold, light-up, do not open, are unbound, or punched full of holes. Time weaves back and forth in Smith's work and certain themes recur: desire, memory, poetry, image repetition, and sequence.
By examining such a large group of Smith’s works, the artist’s love of repetition immediately becomes apparent. Smith constantly reuses his source imagery in various forms and formats in a manner similar to jazz music, which he is particularly fond of—the repeating elements are never quite the same. Interestingly, for an artist who has been working for over 40 years, his original source photographs are few—those images used over and over in his collages, prints, etchings, drawings and books. There are only a handful of pictures of individuals and events that Smith works with again and again, changing and evolving the original moment via different processes and techniques. Certain themes and motifs recur frequently—the human ear, the artist’s self-portrait, his home—but the most provocative are the altered photographs of the men Smith has loved or desired, an opportunity to express that which the artist potentially could not do in person.
Smith’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and internationally, including the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House; Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Turin; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s 1978 survey of American Photography since 1960, alongside prominent artists William Eggleston and Lee Friedlander. In 1988, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts organized a major retrospective of his work. Smith is the recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant.
Major museum collections holding works by the artist include the Art Institute of Chicago; Center of Creative Photography, University of Arizona; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.