In the upcoming online exhibition opening 2 May, Hauser & Wirth will debut new collages by American artist Lorna Simpson. ‘Give Me Some Moments’ finds Simpson building upon themes that are essential to her practice: the nature of representation, identity, gender, race, and history, which are all central to contemporary culture and American life today.
For more than 30 years, Simpson’s powerful works have entangled viewers in an equivocal web of meaning, drawing upon techniques of collage through the use of found images, often culled from the pages of Jet and Ebony magazines from the 1950s to the 1970s. These publications focused on subjects of lifestyle, culture, and politics from an African-American perspective and are credited with chronicling black lives and issues so sorely under-represented elsewhere in the media. Through this exhibition, Simpson continues to develop the language of the found image as a source for her work, deftly navigating the territory between figuration and abstraction, past and present to open up the history of representation in images.
The new collages feature a series of female and male protagonists, often the focal point of the compositions, who Simpson splices with architectural features, animals, and natural elements to create scenarios that are at once poetic and arresting. In these collages, Simpson uses the devices of extreme cropping and close-ups to hone in on sections of the bodies portrayed. As she explains, ‘the notion of fragmentation, especially of the body, is prevalent in our culture, and it’s reflected in my works. We’re fragmented not only in terms of how society regulates our bodies but in the way we think about ourselves.’ In ‘Flames’ (2019), Simpson forefronts women’s heads and inserts scenes of burning buildings in place of advertised coiffed wigs, while in ‘California’ (2019) she intertwines geological source material from a 1931 textbook with domestic scenery, encouraging new narratives to emerge from the unexpected settings.
While under quarantine, Simpson has continued to engage the analog nature of the collage process, directly cutting and pasting from Ebony magazines, resulting in three new surreal portraits that are featured in this exhibition: ‘Solar Glare’ (2020), ‘Walk with Me’ (2020), and ‘Lyra night sky styled in NYC’ (2020).
Since the beginning of her practice Simpson has used her work to suggest or point to a narrative while simultaneously imbuing a distinct sense of ambiguity. The collage works use fragmented figures to continue these notions as well as exemplify a surreal side of Simpson’s practice through multifaceted layers of both abstraction and figuration.
‘Give Me Some Moments’ follows the artist’s critically acclaimed 2019 exhibition ‘Darkening’ at Hauser & Wirth’s 22nd Street gallery in New York. In 2019, Simpson was awarded the esteemed J. Paul Getty Medal, honoring her extraordinary contribution to practice, understanding, and support of the arts.
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About the artist
Born in Brooklyn, Lorna Simpson came to prominence in the 1980s with her pioneering approach to conceptual photography. Simpson’s early work—particularly her striking juxtapositions of text and staged images—raised questions about the nature of representation, identity, gender, race and history that continue…Learn more