- Museum number
- Object: Born
Two figures, a girl and a woman, wearing red capes, appear out of a recumbent wolf's stomach. 2002
- Production date
Height: 1730 millimetres
Width: 1430 millimetres (sheet)
- Curator's comments
- This was printed and published by Universal Limited Art Editions, West Islip, New York in an edition of 38. From 1999, Kiki Smith has worked on the theme of 'Little Red Riding Hood' in sculpture, prints, paintings on glass, photographs and drawings. In this print biblical overtones are evoked by the cloaked figures that recall medieval depictions of the Virgin. Kiki Smith has commented: 'If you take 'Born' out of the context of the story and just look at the image, I thought it looked like the figures were being born out of the wolf. And then I thought of works like Botticelli's Venus on the shell - the same image of a vertical and a horizontal, like the Virgin Mary on the moon' (cited by Weitman, p. 38). The faces of the little girl and the grandmother are both portraits of the artist; that of the little girl is based on a drawing which had been made of her when she was a child. The print is discussed in the catalogue raisonné by Wendy Weitman on page 38. The image was used as the jacket cover illustration for 'The Irresistible Fairy Tale': The Cultural and Social History of a Genre', by Jack Zipes (Princeton University Press, 2012).
The Little Red Riding Hood imagery also appears in Smith's work 'Companion', an accordion-folded book of photolithographs made in 2000, which is also in the Museum's collection (2015,7072.1).
Text from Coppel, Daunt and Tallman, 'The American Dream: pop to the present', London: Thames and Hudson in association with the British Museum, 2017, cat. no. 173:
Smith began to make work relating to the story of Little Red Riding Hood in 1999 at a time when she was interested in childhood and stories featuring young female protagonists. In its earliest published form, which appeared in 17th-century France, the story was an adult satire in which the girl ends up sharing a bed with the wolf. Adapted for children by the Brothers Grimm in the 19th century, it became a cautionary tale about the dangers of straying from the path. This print is one of many works in a variety of media that Smith has made on the theme, some of which are conflated with references to St Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, who is often depicted with wolves. In some versions of the story the girl and her grandmother are eaten by the wolf but saved by a hunter who cuts them out of its stomach. The bloodied mouth of the wolf in this print suggests this scenario. As the title implies, their rescue marks a new beginning, a rebirth. Printed and published by ULAE, West Islip, New York, this lithograph relates closely to Smith’s bronze sculpture 'Rapture' (2001), in which a life-sized naked woman steps out of a recumbent wolf. The faces of both the woman and the girl in the print are based on images of the artist.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017 9 Mar-18 Jun, London, BM, G30, The American Dream
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Little Red Riding Hood
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number