Lorna Simpson

A consideration of the African-American artist's searching, philosophical work.

Survey by Kellie Jones, Interview by Thelma Golden, Focus by Chrissie Iles, Artist's Choice by Suzan Lori Parks, Writings by Lorna Simpson


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About the book

Photo-based artist and film-maker Lorna Simpson (b.1960) is considered to be one of the key representatives of African-American visual culture. Emerging in the 1980s, Simpson was, in 1993, the first African-American woman ever to show in the Venice Biennale and to have a solo exhibition in the 'Projects' series of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is also one of very few African-American artists ever to have exhibited at Documenta, as she did in both 1987 and 2002. Simpson's well-known fragmented photographs, combining images with fragments of text, create mysterious and quietly intriguing works that reflect the silence of a portion of society - African-American women - that is rarely if ever represented in art. She raises profound questions about how we represent, see and communicate with each other and ourselves.

Thelma Golden, Curator of Simpson's autumn 2002 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, talks with the artist about the shift from her signature photographic work to more cinematographic and sculptural art. In her Survey, critic and scholar Kellie Jones places the work in the context of the history of African-American culture as well as the recent history of self-portraiture in art through photography and performance. Chrissie Iles, Curator of Simpson's film presentation at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2002), analyses in her Focus the artist's filmworks. The artist's fragmentary use of speech is paralleled in her Artist's Choice, an extract from Top Dog/UnderDog by contemporary African-American playwright Suzan Lori Parks, and in her project notes included in her Artist's Writings.

In The Press

'The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum)

'The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format; invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art.' (Time Out)

'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (The Sunday Times)

About the author(s)
Kellie Jones is a New York-based art historian and curator who specializes in contemporary art of the African Diaspora and Latin America. She has held curatorial positions at the Studio Museum, The Broida Museum and the Jamaica Arts Center, all in New York. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Departments of both History of Art and African-American Studies at Yale University.

Thelma Golden is Head Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, where she curated Lorna Simpson's 2002 exhibition. As Associate Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, she curated the controversial exhibition 'Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art' in 1994.

Chrissie Iles is a British critic and Curator of Film and Video at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Her exhibitions there include the renowned 'Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964-1977' and the 2006 Whitney Biennial. From 1987-97 she was Head of Exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, where her exhibitions included surveys of Sol LeWitt, Louise Bourgeois and Gary Hill.

Marina Abramovic
Zhang Huan
Jeff Wall
Luc Tuymans
Pipilotti Rist


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