HomePage Artists

b. 1960, USA

Lorna Simpson Biography

Lorna Simpson is an American artist best known for her pioneering conceptual photography, which challenges historical and persisting misconceptions about gender, race and cultural identity.

Read More

Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1960, Lorna Simpson spent time in Europe and Africa in the late 1970s, where she became acutely aware of documentary photography's limitations and the voyeurism it promoted.

Receiving her BFA at the School of Visual Arts, New York in 1982, followed by an MFA from the University of California in 1985, where she was taught by Allan Kaprow and Eleanor Antin, she devised ways of upending the relationship between image and audience, and the assumed 'truth' supplied by documentary styles. Her photo-text technique emerged, a now characteristic visual layering with text superimposed and placed alongside her photographs. Works like Gestures and Reenactments (1985) question the interrelationship between text and image, scrutinising the forces determining representation.

It is Lorna Simpson's interest in sources of authorship and historical memory that shaped her work throughout the 1980s. With a forensic eye, Simpson picked apart the narrow languages and images used to present African American people, often compiling fragmented photos to suggest depersonalisation and objectification.

During the 1980s, her prominence grew and her reputation for critical examination of American society was cemented. Stereo Styles (1988), one of Lorna Simpson's most notable works, challenged the identities aligned with and projected upon black women and how gender and culture shape life experiences in America. Two rows of images capturing the backs of women's heads with different hairstyles is juxtaposed with single descriptive words, including 'Magnetic' and 'Sweet'.

In 1990, Lorna Simpson became the first African American woman to exhibit at 44th Venice Biennale, and the first African American woman to have work presented in the 'Projects' series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The portraits included in the MoMA show tackled sexuality, desire, and the racism ingrained in photographs by presenting faceless bodies framed with words including 'identify'.

Since then, Lorna Simpson's practice has expanded to include, film, sculpture, painting, collage, and drawing. Her films are stages for surreal conversations, which often mark continuity between characters who might traditionally be considered unrelated.

Her sculptures, like Unanswerable (2018), offset historic images taken from vintage Ebony and Jet magazines with natural landscape photos. The incongruous compositions reflect on the complex and absurd aspects of contemporary American life. As she has said, 'For me, the images hearken back to my childhood, but are also a lens through which to see the past fifty years in American history.'

Lorna Simpson solo exhibitions

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, USA (2017); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2014); Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn NY (2011); Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis (2010); The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007); Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (1993); Denver Art Museum, Denver CO (1990).

Lorna Simpson group exhibitions

The Naked Truth, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Enschede, The Netherlands (2019); Selections from The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2019); Outliers and American Vanguard Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles CA (2018); We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts MA (2018); What Absence is Made Of, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC (2017); Citizens, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2017); Soulèvements (Uprisings), Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2016); A History. Art, Architecture, Design from the 80s to Now, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2014); Auckland Triennial, Public/Private, Auckland, New Zealand (2004).

Ocula | 2020

Exhibition view: Lorna Simpson, Special Characters, Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong (16 June–30 September 2020). © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Kitmin Lee.

Lorna Simpson Featured Artworks

View All (32)
Most relevant by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonMost relevant, 2020Gessoed fibreglass panel
170.2 x 127 x 3.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Rooftop by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonRooftop, 2019Found photograph and collage on paper; 2 framed collages
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
The Sky by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonThe Sky, 2019Collage on paper; 6 framed collages
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
January by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonJanuary, 2020Collage on paper
48 x 44.9 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Then Comes Thunder by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonThen Comes Thunder, 2019Collage on paper
37 x 38.2 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Synapse by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonSynapse, 2019Collage on paper
50.3 x 43.8 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
Thin Bands by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna SimpsonThin Bands, 2019Ink and screenprint on gessoed fibreglass
274.3 x 243.8 x 3.5 cm
Hauser & Wirth Contact Gallery
15 Mouths by Lorna Simpson contemporary artwork
Lorna Simpson15 Mouths, 2002Fifteen archival pigment prints on Velour paper, mounted on Hahnemühle Copperplate paper with deckled edge, with letterpress printed text on each sheet, with accompanying audio CD in portfolio case
10 x 8 inches
Krakow Witkin Gallery Contact Gallery

Lorna Simpson Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (6)
Contemporary art exhibition, Lorna Simpson, Special Characters at Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
Open Now
16 June–30 September 2020 Lorna Simpson Special Characters Hauser & WirthHong Kong
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Deep and High at Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Closed
17 June–5 August 2020 Group Exhibition Deep and High Krakow Witkin GalleryOnline Only
Contemporary art exhibition, Lorna Simpson, Give Me Some Moments at Hauser & Wirth, Hong Kong
Closed
2 May–30 June 2020 Lorna Simpson Give Me Some Moments Hauser & WirthOnline Only

Lorna Simpson Represented By

Hauser & Wirth contemporary art gallery in Hong Kong Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong, Zurich, London, New York, Los Angeles, Somerset, Gstaad, St. Moritz

Lorna Simpson In Related Press

Lorna Simpson Searches for Meaning in the Arctic Ice Related Press Lorna Simpson Searches for Meaning in the Arctic Ice 20 June 2019, Hyperallergic

In the poem 'Ode to Meaning' by Robert Pinsky, the speaker traverses the sundry terrains in which meaning might be found and sifts through the many guises it might take on. What a reader has to conclude coming to the end of the poem, is that meaning is a fugitive thing, sometimes here, and sometimes there, winking in and out of existence, and...

Fade out copy.
Read More
LORNA SIMPSON with Osman Can Yerebakan Related Press LORNA SIMPSON with Osman Can Yerebakan 14 June 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

Mammoth scale paintings of glaciers drenched in nocturnal blues guard Lorna Simpson's Brooklyn Navy Yard studio on a rainy April day. This is the type of blue that permeates the sky at the darkest hour of the night, when above us is so pitch black that the sky resembles a dense blue. The same blue is echoed in Tarell Alvin McCraney's play I_n...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Lorna Simpson in conversation with Thelma Golden Related Press Lorna Simpson in conversation with Thelma Golden 14 May 2019, Hauser & Wirth

For more than 30 years, Lorna Simpson’s powerful work has explored the nature of representation, identity, gender, race, and history. On the occasion of the artist’s first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in New York, Simpson was joined by Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, for a conversation about her work...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Lorna Simpson In Video & Audio

In Conversation: Lorna Simpson and Thelma Golden Related Video & Audio In Conversation: Lorna Simpson and Thelma Golden 5 March 2018, Hauser & Wirth

A conversation between the artist Lorna Simpson and Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, on the occasion of the exhibition Lorna Simpson. Unanswerable, at Hauser & Wirth London, 1 March 2018. Lorna Simpson was born in Brooklyn, where she continues to live and work. Simpson came to prominence...

Fade out copy.
View Video
Lorna Simpson: In The Studio Related Video & Audio Lorna Simpson: In The Studio 26 February 2018, Hauser & Wirth

Lorna Simpson talks to Frieze about her life and work in her Brooklyn studio. Simpson came to prominence in the 1980s through her pioneering approach to conceptual photography, which featured striking juxtapositions of text and staged images and raised questions about the nature of representation, identity, gender, race and history. These concerns...

Fade out copy.
View Video

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Lorna Simpson are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
;
iCal
GoogleYahooOutlook