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Gallery Text

In Pee Body, sculptor Kiki Smith explores the female body and its private performance of basic functions. Concerned with interior biological processes of waste and regeneration, Smith subverts the Western sculptural tradition of the eroticized female form. Here the un-idealized life-size body of a woman, molded in sweet-smelling beeswax, crouches on the gallery floor with sparkling yellow beads streaming out behind her. The earthy subject is tempered by its delicate materials — wax and glass. The bowed head and folded arms suggest an introspective and vulnerable state, as our voyeuristic encounter with the crouched woman quietly insists we consider what constitutes improper behavior in communal space: is it the figure who publicly displays a private act, or the viewer who violates that privacy?

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Kiki Smith, American (Nuremberg, Germany born 1954)
Pee Body
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Wax and glass beads (23 strands of varying lengths, 1' to over 15' long)
68.6 x 71.1 x 71.1 cm (27 x 28 x 28 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Kiki Smith, created 1992; [Fawbush Gallery, New York, NY]sold;to private collector, Barbara Fish Lee, and Fogg Art Museum, 1997.

Note: Barbara Lee made a gift of her portion in 2014.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Barbara Lee, Gift of Emily Rauh Pulitzer and Purchase in part from the Joseph A. Baird, Jr., Francis H. Burr Memorial and Director's Acquisition Funds
© Kiki Smith
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

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Publication History

  • Kiki Smith: Silent Work, exh. cat., Austrian Museum of Applied Arts (Vienna, Austria, 1992), pps. 52, 74-75, illustrated in color (incorrectly titled Lot's Wife)
  • Barbara Pollack, "Leaping off the Pedestal", Art News (June 1998), p. 107, color repro.
  • James Cuno, ed., A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., Spring 2000), pp. 95-96, ill. (color)
  • David Bjelajac, American Art: A Cultural History, Prentice Hall, Inc. (2005), p. 458
  • Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 245, ill.
  • Francesca Herndon-Consagra and Sydney Jane Norton, Dreamscapes, exh. cat., Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis, Missouri, 2011), pp. 9-10, Main Gallery Stairs section, three consecutive pages, ill. (color).
  • Michelle White, Mona Hatoum: Terra Infirma, exh. cat., Menil Collection (Houston, TX, 2018), p. 36, ill. (color)
  • Kiki Smith, Kiki Smith - Free Fall, Yeolhwadang (Seoul, 2022), Pg. 161, Ill. Color

Exhibition History

  • Dreamscapes, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis, 02/11/2011 - 08/13/2011
  • 32Q: 1120 Contemporary Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 10/13/2016

Verification Level

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