Lorna Simpson (2006-2007)

This is the first mid-career survey of Lorna Simpson’s work to date and provides a comprehensive examination of her photographs and films.

One of the leading artists of her generation, Lorna Simpson first became well known in the mid-1980s, confronting and challenging conventional views toward gender, identity, culture, history, and memory with large-scale photograph and text works that are formally elegant and subtly provocative. The artist often focused on the figure, shown either faceless or with the body cropped, combined with fragments of text that confound the viewer’s expectations of narrative and identity. By the mid-90s, Simpson began to concentrate on creating large multi-panel photographs printed on felt. The softly sensual images depict urban locales as the site of public, yet unseen, couplings. More recently, the artist has turned to creating moving images. In film and video works such as Call Waiting, she features couples engaging in intimate yet incomplete conversations that elude easy interpretation but seem to plumb the mysteries of identity and desire.

This is the first mid-career survey of Simpson’s work to date and provides a comprehensive examination of her photographs and films. It includes approximately seventeen of her acclaimed image and text works (1985–92); seven major photographs on felt (1994–98); six film installations from 1997 to 2004, such as Call Waiting, Interior/Exterior, Full/Empty, a seven-part projection and related series of photographs, and 31, a video calendar; and a selection of recent work.



Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
April 16–July 10, 2006
Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL
October 5, 2006–February 4, 2007
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
March 1–May 6, 2007
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, MI
May 25–August 19, 2007
Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, NC
September 7–December 2, 2007


Published by the AFA and Harry N. Abrams, the exhibition catalogue features essays by Okwui Enwezor and Hilton Als, as well as a conversation with Lorna Simpson, Isaac Julien, and Thelma Golden.


Helaine Posner is an Adjunct Curator of the American Federation of Arts.


The exhibition is organized by the American Federation of Arts.

This exhibition is made possible, in part, by grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Peter Norton Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation, Emily Fisher Landau, and The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation.