Skip to content

Press Release

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to present rare, unique artists’ books by Alexis Smith from the 1970s for the Survey section at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017.

For over forty years, Alexis Smith has been constructing intellectually rigorous, visually engaging, and emotionally moving artists’ books, collages, and installations. Born in Los Angeles in 1949, Smith was raised on literature, pulp novels, and Hollywood cinema. Her works from the late 1960s through the 1970s distill these influences into intimate artists’ books and delicate collages with text on paper. The space of her small collages grew to architectural proportions when she brought painted backgrounds, vinyl cutouts, found objects, and framed collages together in immersive installations in the 1980s and 1990s.

After graduating from the University of California, Irvine in 1970, Smith moved to Venice, CA where she still maintains a studio. The first public exhibition of Smith’s work was Southern California: Attitudes 1972, organized by Barbara Haskell for the Pasadena Art Museum. For this exhibition, Smith created a reading room with a selection of her bound and boxed handmade books and portfolios. Thirteen of the books that Smith made during the 1970s have remained in her personal collection. Rarely exhibited and in pristine condition, five of the books will be presented by Honor Fraser Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach 2017. The remaining eight books will be presented electronically.

In the same way that films are created through a series of images, each successive page of Smith’s books reveals a narrative of influences on the young artist. In Clues and Souvenirs (1971–72), one of the five books on display, Smith interweaves a transcribed essay on photography, photographs, a courtroom scene from a murder mystery, mementos from a trip to Europe, comic strip clippings, claim tickets, and imprints of kisses in a folio folder smeared with finger paints. The final pages feature spray painted outlines of the artist’s hands reminiscent of ancient wall paintings. Cumulatively, the book speaks to the impressions and markers of individual identity.

Smith’s books will be presented alongside a reproduced wall painting the artist used in her early installation Hello Hollywood (1980), illuminating her move from small books and collages to room-sized installations. In this way, the larger installations can be seen as architecturally scaled pages into which viewers may wander and become immersed in Smith’s narratives, both physically and psychologically.

Alexis Smith was born in 1949 in Los Angeles, where she lives today. She received a BA from University of California, Irvine in 1970. One person exhibitions of Smith’s work have been mounted at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Malibu, CA (forthcoming 2018); Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, La Jolla, CA (2015); University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY (2003); Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2000); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (1997); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA (1997); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (1991); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (1991). Her work has been included in nearly 200 thematic exhibitions including Los Angeles: A Fiction, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway (2016); Drawing in L.A.: the 1960s and 70s, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014); Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2011); and elles@centrepompidou, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2009). Smith has completed several major public commissions, including a mural for the Las Vegas Central Library; terrazzo floors at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH; and a site-specific installation for The Stuart Collection, University of California, San Diego in La Jolla, CA. Her work is included in public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Related Contributors