Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik's World of Ballet and Theatre

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Prince Siegfried Arriving Home in Vienna 1800's, from Versailles, 1500's, 2000 Water Soluble Oil Color On Canvas © Photo courtesy of 303 Gallery
Should I, Like the Heroine of the Ballet, Defy the Command and Make a Dangerous—and Possibly Fatal—Bid for Freedom?, 1998 Crayon And Pastel On Paper 34 X 26 Inches © Collection of Gregory R. Miller and Michael Wiener
Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik's World of Ballet and Theatre
Curated by: Melissa E. Feldman

5000 MacArthur Blvd.
94613 Oakland
September 12th, 2012 - December 9th, 2012
Opening: September 12th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Other (outside areas listed)
Tue-Sun 11am-4pm; Wed 11am-7:30pm
collage, photography, mixed-media, installation, video-art, figurative


The first one-person museum exhibition on the West Coast of internationally acclaimed American artist Karen Kilimnik.

Emerging in the late-1980s, American artist Karen Kilimnik is a key figure in contemporary art whose work in media ranging from traditional painting to video and live performance has reinvigorated and expanded the lexicon of narrative figuration. She first became known for vignette-littered drawings and sprawling theatrical installation works that reimagine historical figures and times and parallels in contemporary pop culture. In one drawing she likens Giselle, the jilted maiden in the nineteenth century ballet’s title role, to Gelsey Kirkland, the famous drug addled, heartsick Balanchine-era ballerina who often played her.

The theatrical has always loomed large in Kilimnik’s work. Historical theatres and stage sets, story ballets and operas as well as famous dancers, pop stars and actors make repeat appearances across widely varying mediums. Archetypal themes drawn from Swan Lake and other legendary works—often spliced with present-day dramas found on-screen and in the news—play out in the artist’s narratives and iconography.  Kilimnik’s consuming drive to repeatedly re-envision certain plot-lines, images, and motifs relates to the ever-evolving, self-referential nature of the performing arts with its endless variations, renditions and remakes.

Dance Rehearsal features works from 1988 to the present, encompassing all the notoriously diverse styles and mediums in which Kilimnik has worked—from figurative drawing and painting to mixed media mise-en-scène installations, collage, photography, and video, as well as more recent forays into set and costume design and choreography.

In conjunction with Dance Rehearsal, MCAM is excited to launch a new publication by the same name. Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik’s World of Ballet and Theatre features over 60 large-scale, full color images of Kilimnik’s work, some of which have never been reproduced before, and includes new scholarship by independent curator Melissa E. Feldman, art critic and frieze co-editor Jörg Heiser, fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, and dance critic Apollinaire Scherr. Dance Rehearsal will be available for purchase beginning September 12 at the opening reception and online. Distributed by ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

Guest Curated by Melissa E. Feldman.