Melanie Smithborn 1965, England
Melanie Smith

“In general, both in painting and film, I am searching for an unstable, undefined ground that creates potentials. … It is always a question of following various lines of research that for me coincide at my sites of interest and result in these layers of associations and visual encounters.”


Born in Poole, England, Melanie Smith received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Reading, where she studied painting. In 1989, she moved to Mexico City, joining an international community of artists and writers there. Her work was included in the first exhibition of installation art in Mexico, curated by Guillermo Santamarina at the Museum of the Ex-Convento de los Leones. Since then, the city has played an important role in her work; she has produced installations, videos, films, photographs, and paintings in which she considers Mexico City’s density of population and structures, its production of detritus, and its endless entropy and reconstruction. These concerns are balanced by Smith’s interest in the legacies of modernism and post-avant-garde movements as they manifest themselves in Latin America.


In her 2002 video, Spiral City, Smith filmed one of Mexico City’s suburbs from a helicopter as it flew in a widening spiral over the densely gridded urban space. The video takes Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty as a referent, and draws from the unique topography and dramatic immensity of Mexico City. In other projects, she has focused upon the legacies of Surrealism in the Americas. Writing about Smith’s work, art historian Dawn Ades describes the artist’s relationship to modernity and the present: “There is nothing sentimental about Smith’s pursuit of the modern spectacle in Mexico… No reference to history and the weight of the past. This is modernity of a shattered, intimate kind, already old, past its sell-by date, but always still to happen.”



2016: Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico
2015: Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
2014: Fordlandia, Galería Nara Roesler, São Paulo, Brazil

Melanie Smith, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, USA
Green is the Colour, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
Melanie Smith, MK Gallery, Buckinghamshire, UK
Melanie Smith, Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania

2013: Irreversible/Illegible/Unstable, Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico

2011Red square impossible pink, Mexican Pavilion, 54th International Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy
Bulto, Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
2010: Xilitla, El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico
2009: Spiral city and other vicarious pleasures, MIT List, Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, USA
2008: Parres Trilogy, Miami Art Museum, Miami Beach, FL, USA
2006: Spiral city and other vicarious pleasures, Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes, muca Campus, Mexico City, Mexico
Parres Trilogy, Art Now, Tate Britain, London, UK
2004: Cerca Series: Melanie Smith, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA, USA
1997: Orange Lush, Instituto Anglo-Mexicano de Cultura, Mexico City, Mexico
1996:  Dream Spots: Taxqueña bus station, Sala Díaz, San Antonio, TX, USA
1992: Melanie Smith and Francis Alÿs, L’Escaut, Brusells, Belgium
1989: Melanie Smith, Salón de Los Aztecas, Mexico City, Mexico


Smith’s work has also been shown in numerous international exhibitions, including: México: Inside Out, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2013); The Smithson Effect, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City (2011); Espectrografías: paradojas de la historia, MUAC, Mexico City (2010); Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography, 1990-2005, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach (2010); The Twentieth Century: How it looked and how it felt, Tate Liverpool (2009); Global Cities, Tate Modern, London (2007); La era de la discrepancia, MUAC, Mexico City (2007); Constructing a Poetic Universe, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2007); Eco: arte mexicano contemporáneo, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2005); Sodio y asfalto: arte británico contemporáneo en México, Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City (2004); Made in Mexico, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2004); Mexico City: An exhibition about the exchange rates of bodies and values, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2002); among many others.



Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Irvine, CA, USA

Arte Contemporáneo en Valencia, Spain

The Bruce and Diane Halle Collection, Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Centro Cultural Muros, Madrid, Spain

Colección Isabel y Agustín Coppel, Mexico City, Mexico

Cruz Rojas, Mexico City, Mexico

Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Switzerland

ESSL Collection, Klosterneuburg, Austria

Fomento Cultural Bancomer, Tamaulipas, Mexico

Fundación Arco, Madrid, Spain

Fundación Colección Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico

Grupo de los Dieciséis, Mexico City, Mexico

Inhotim Brazil, Brumadinho, Brazil

Ivor Braka Gallery, London, UK

Jerry Speyer Collection, New York, NY, USA

Lucille & Ronald Neeley Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA

Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Torino, Italy

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, USA

Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain

Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru

Museo de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo de Santander y Cantabria, Spain

Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte, Mexico City, Mexico

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, NY, USA

Nara Roesler Gallery, São Paulo, Brazil

Peter Kilchmann Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland

Quint Contemporary, La Jolla, CA, USA

Tate, London, UK

Vergel Foundation, New York, NY, USA


For full CV please download the PDF below.

Download PDF

EXHIBITIONS Project Video 2015
Dias & Riedweg, Miguel Angel ...
Green is the Colour
EXHIBITIONS Mirando la flor
Cardoso, Glassford, Muñoz, Rí...
EXHIBITIONS Stories About Place
Gustavo Bonevardi, Dias & Rie...
Abandoned Bodies and Uncertain...
NEWS Muñoz, Ríos, Rojas, and Smith
Fondation Beyeler
NEWS Melanie Smith and Clarissa Tossin
SITE Santa Fe
NEWS Cardoso, Ferrari, Muñoz, Porter, Ríos,...
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg
NEWS Melanie Smith
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
NEWS The Armory Show, Pier 94, Booth 912
Melanie Smith, Ana Maria Tava...
NEWS Melanie Smith
Surreal Encounters | Collecti...
NEWS Melanie Smith
Contemporary Arts Museum Houst...
NEWS Melanie Smith: 1000...
Can Trinxet
NEWS Melanie Smith
MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK
NEWS Ríos, Rojas, Muñoz, Porter, and Smith
Aurora Picture Show
NEWS Melanie Smith
Whitechapel Gallery
NEWS Melanie Smith at La Tallera Cuernavaca
The Triumph of Death, Pieter ...
NEWS Thomas Glassford and Melanie Smith
Modern Art Museum of Fort Wort...
NEWS Thomas Glassford & Melanie Smith
The Galleries at Moore Colleg...
NEWS Melanie Smith
Without Restraint | Kunstmuse...
NEWS Gabriel de la Mora and Melanie Smith
Centro de las Artes Parque...
Short Circuit

PRESS Melanie Smith | Art Ltd.
Download PDF
PRESS Melanie Smith | Slate
View Website
PRESS Melanie Smith | Arts & Culture
Download PDF
TEXTS Green is the Colour

Download PDF
TEXTS Stories About Place

Download PDF