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Lectures
Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography
Lorna Simpson

September 10 at 12:00
East Building Auditorium

Born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York, Lorna Simpson earned her BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1983, and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego, in 1985. She first gained recognition in the mid-1980s for her large photograph-and-text works that confront and challenge, conventional views of gender, identity, culture, history, and memory. With unidentified figures as a visual point of departure, Simpson uses the human form to examine the ways in which gender and culture shape the interactions, relationships, and experiences of contemporary American lives. In the mid- 1990s, she began creating large, multipanel  photographs printed on felt depicting the sites of public, yet unseen, encounters. Her most recent works explore an archive of photographs from the 1950s that she has augmented and complicated by creating her own replicas. In the last fifteen years, Simpson has turned to film and video works in which individuals engage in enigmatic conversations that seem to address the mysteries of both identity and desire. Throughout her body of work, Simpson’s questioning of memory and representation is evident, whether in her moving juxtaposition of text and image, in the haunting video projection Cloudscape and its echo in the felt work Cloud, or in her large-scale video installation Momentum, which recreates a childhood dance performance.

In Simpson’s latest large-scale paintings exhibited at the 56th International Venice Biennale, characteristic ambivalence is presented with hazy ink washes, depicting isolated figures amidst nebulous spaces — an expansion of her earlier unidentified figures in a deepened exploration of contemporary culture.

Simpson has participated in such important international exhibitions as the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany, and the 56th Venice Biennale. A survey retrospective, accompanied by the monograph Lorna Simpson, published by Prestel Press, New York, premiered in 2013 at Jeu De Paume, Paris, and traveled to the Haus der Kunst, Munich, The Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts. Her work is represented in the Gallery’s collection by Two Pairs, a photogravure published by Graphicstudio, U. S. F., and Untitled (Two Necklines), two gelatin silver prints and eleven engraved plastic plaques. Untitled (Two Necklines) is on view in the exhibition Intersections: Photographs and Videos from the National Gallery of Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art through January 2, 2017.

Photograph by George Pitts

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