“Keith A. Smith: The Fabric Works: 1964-1980” at Bruce Silverstein Gallery

April 23 - June 6, 2015

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 23rd, 6-8pm

535 West 24th Street, New York

Throughout his career, Keith Smith (b.1938) has taken a non-purist approach to photography, printmaking, and bookmaking.  The current exhibition, Smith’s third solo show with the gallery, features his earliest works on fabric. 

When Smith moved to Rochester in 1974 to teach at the Visual Studies Workshop, he arrived with only a sewing machine and a mattress. The son of a seamstress (Smith’s mother helped make some of the quilts in this exhibition), thread, stitching, and fabric became an important component and binding material in his work.  Additionally, the quilt format offered another dimension to explore his fascination with time and movement as elements in his image-making process. Smith contact-printed entire strips of film on light-sensitized fabric, preferring the experience of multiple frames of time to the traditional photographic approach of isolating and enlarging single images.

In the current exhibition, portraits and self-portraits predominate including a life size image-transfer on bridal satin created by color-photocopying a nude model in segments.  Never shying from utilizing new technology in his work, the Color-in Color copier process invented by 3M was especially of interest to Smith in the early 1970s when it was first developed. These experimental images were displayed in a 1974 exhibition in collaboration with Sonia Landy Sheridan at the Museum of Modern Art. 

Despite his preference to seclude himself as an artist, Keith Smith’s influence as a teacher and author on the subjects of alternative bookbinding and book structure is widespread. He has made over 300 unique artist books and has authored nine books on bookmaking.  Smith has taught at the Visual Studies Workshop, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. He is a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Endowment of the Arts grant and a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant.

Keith Smith’s work is in the collections of leading international public and private collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Morgan Library, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The New York Public Library, New York; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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