Karen Kilimnik - Contemporary Art London Friday, October 13, 2006 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    303 Gallery, New York

  • Literature

    Edition Patrick Frey, eds., Karen Kilimnik: Paintings, Zurich-New York-Berlin, 2000, p. 155 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Obsessed with powerful historical and contemporary icons that stem from high and popular culture, Karen Kilimnik creates her own magical reality through her enchanting paintings that interweave history, myth, and fantasy. Her body of work, shown in the form of installations of painting and photographs, ranges over imagery that is both personal and culturally specific. Her subjects reflect her love of nature and animals a well as her engagement with an assortment of archetypal cultural phenomena.

    Kilimnik's work also conveys her varied passions, ranging from Tsarist Russia, classical ballet and the Gothic aesthetic, to today's celebrity culture built around pop stars and glamour magazines, and, more recently, the world of fairies and fairy tales. It is explained that Kilimnik “loves eras – the 1960s, the 1890s and the 1780s. She loves Russia, Russian ballet and the Russian Tea room. She loves sparkly things such as snow and glitter and chandeliers; loves the shadows in empty drawing rooms and the twilight haze in the forest. She loves fairy tales and Leonardo DiCaprio and whatever things offer themselves up to be loved: dogs, ponies and famous pretty faces…” (S. Stern, “the Uses of Enchantment”, Frieze, issue 81, 2004, p. 66). In the present lot, Barbe Dmitrievna Margassov, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov, 1864, in the Limelight/Cynthia a Snowflake in the Nutcracker, 1999 Kilimnik’s obsession with royal court life is most evident. The beautiful and elegantly clothed lady in this painting was indeed a social figure in the mid-1800s, whom the German court painter Franz Xavier Winterhalter captured in a stunning portrait in 1864. Passionately inspired by this work, Kilimnik calls on her artistic prowess to transfigure the female representation into her muse. Kilimnik successfully plays with the ability of portraiture to mask and, simultaneous reveal, and the painted figure’s face transforms into a locus for obsession, as well as a site for tribute and homage.


Barbe Dmitrievna Margassov, Madame Rimsky-Korsakov, 1864, in the Limelight/Cynthia a Snowflake in the Nutcracker

Water soluble oil on canvas in artist’s frame.
20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm).
Signed, titled, inscribed and dated “ December 1 ’99 December 14 ’99 December 21 ’99 December 23 ‘ 99 Barbe Dmitrievna Mergassov Madame Rimsky Korsakov 1864 /in the limelight/ Cynthia a snowflake in the nutcracker Karen Kilimnik” on the reverse.

£120,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £142,400

Contemporary Art

14 Oct 2006, 7pm