Skip Navigation


Kiki Smith

Contemporary Art

Kiki Smith is known for her ongoing engagement with bodily matter and the female form, often through fairy tales and folklore. The title of the set to which this lithograph belongs—Banshee Pearls—combines terms with very different connotations. Pearls have long signified upper-class elegance and femininity, while a banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology whose chilling screams and ghostlike pallor are omens of death. The word banshee is still used to describe women or girls who are seen as wild or inappropriately behaved. Here, repeating deathlike masks of a woman’s face ask the viewer to consider how female power
relates to beauty and the grotesque.


[Text not currently in gallery]

MEDIUM Lithograph
DATES 1991
DIMENSIONS 22 1/2 x 30 1/2 in. (57.2 x 77.5 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
CREDIT LINE Emily Winthrop Miles Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Kiki Smith (American, born Germany, 1954). [Untitled], 1991. Lithograph, 22 1/2 x 30 1/2 in. (57.2 x 77.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Emily Winthrop Miles Fund, 1999.17.3. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1999.17.3_PS20.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1999.17.3_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
The Brooklyn Museum holds a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of this work of art from the rights holder named here. The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act. For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact If you wish to contact the rights holder for this work, please email and we will assist if we can.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.