Lorna Simpson

(Brooklyn, New York, 1960 - )


Lorna Simpson uses photography and film to challenge standard views of gender, identity, history and memory. After graduating with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1982 she made documentary-style photographs. However, Simpson began to question documentary photography’s association with absolute truth, which she felt had the potential for exploitation. By the time she completed an MFA from the University of California San Diego in 1985, Simpson had transitioned to making conceptually driven work, superimposing text onto her photographs to introduce new possibilities of meaning. She first gained notoriety for her large-scale photo-text works, which featured anonymous African American figures, their faces obscured through cropping or positioning. In the 1990s she created multi-panel works featuring everyday objects inspired by scientific photography or atmospheric interior and exterior views of architecture printed on felt. In the mid-1990s Simpson began working in film and video, and in the 2000s, her practice turned to recreating found vintage photographs. In 1990, Simpson became the first African American female to exhibit at the Venice Biennale. She has participated in both Documenta and the Whitney Biennial. Simpson’s work is in the collection of many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.


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