Karen Smith is an art historian specialising in China's contemporary art. She has authored numerous monographs on artists, including Ai Weiwei, Liu Xiaodong and Jia Aili, and books on China's contemporary art scene and its history, including Nine Lives: The Birth of Avant-Garde Art in New China (2008) and, most recently, the series titled As Seen: Notable Artworks by Chinese Artists (2012/2013).
As independent curator, her work includes 'Evolution a Question' (Yuan Space, 2013), 'Hive' (Today Art Museum, Beijing, 2011), 'The Real Thing' (Tate Liverpool, 2007), 'The Chinese: Photography and Video Art from China' (Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2004), 'My China Now' (UK-wide Chinese film programme, 2008), solo exhibitions for Liu Xiaodong, Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing in the US and the UK. In August 2012, she was appointed Executive Director of OCAT Xi'an, the third contemporary art museum in the OCAT museum group, founded in Shenzhen in 2005. She has lived in Beijing since 1992.