Recent Articles
Alberto González Vivo talks about his art
Meet the Artist
Alberto González Vivo – 'I think if the work has the desired effect on me, it will have that effect on others'
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Close Look
5 things to look out for in the Celeste Dupuy-Spencer edition
Lindsay August-Salazar on her inspirations, influences and ideals
Meet the Artist
Lindsay August-Salazar – “Art has the capacity to expand my deeper drive and interest in human expression'
Colleen Blackard - 'I want to build worlds to share'
Artist to Watch
Colleen Blackard - 'From an early age I found it easier to communicate with gestures and pictures than with words'
Bepi Ghiotti on his photographs of rivers and mountains
Meet the Artist
Bepi Ghiotti - 'An artwork is never still although what it represents might seem like it is'
Catherine Opie tells us how she got this amazing shot
Q&A
Catherine Opie tells us how she shot this powerful photograph at the first ever women's march
Meet the Artist
Rey Zorro - 'When we went on holiday we’d put chairs on the beach to look for UFOs in the night sky. This was normal at home; we never spoke about it as being ‘out of this world’
Meet the people behind Assembly
Meet the Dealer
Meet the people behind Assembly - a new kind of gallery
The Artspace Art for Life Interview with Adam Clayton
How I Collect
The Artspace Art for Life Interview with Adam Clayton
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer on her new Artspace edition
Artist to Watch
'I was really trying to paint what it feels like to be living in the fall of human civilization' - Celeste Dupuy-Spencer on her powerful new Artspace edition
William Eric Brown on the latest Artspace auction
Meet the Artist
‘I’m most comfortable in that state of unknowing - is it real or imagined?’ - William Eric Brown
TM Davy on his benefit auction contribution
Meet the Artist
'Unhappy and happy flow back and forth like a tide making art. I’m working to be OK with that' – TM Davy
Anthony Goicolea on his new Artspace Edition
Meet the Artist
'I am most inspired by those weird transitional moments or in-between states where things undergo metamorphosis' - Anthony Goicolea
Jerry The Marble Faun on the latest Artspace Auction
Meet the Artist
‘It takes a lot of energy to tap into whatever is trapped inside the material - the process is like a releasing a spirit’ – Jerry The Marble Faun
Garrett Chingery on the latest Artspace auction
Meet the Artist
‘My interests include the relationship of one’s self to the world, surrealism and mystery’ - Garrett Chingery

Meet the Artist

Get To Know Simone Leigh, The Artist Representing America in Venice in 2022

By

Get To Know Simone Leigh, The Artist Representing America in Venice in 2022
Simone Leigh at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia, 2020 © Simone Leigh. Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis, courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

Many barriers held Simone Leigh back from immediate success in the art world. “I was told by everyone I knew in ceramics there was no way I would ever be included in the contemporary art space,” the Chicago-born sculptor told the New York Times in 2018. Leigh is also the daughter of Jamaican missionaries, and never attended art school, studying instead feminist and post-colonial theory as a philosophy student at Earlham College in Indiana, where she first tried her hand at pottery in the college’s ceramics studio. 

Nevertheless, she has excelled, receiving the Hugo Boss Prize in 2018, seeing her work included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial, and, most recently, being chosen to represent the USA at the 2022 Venice Art Biennale - the first black woman to do so.

“Over the course of two decades, Simone Leigh has created an indelible body of work that centers on  the experiences and histories of black women,” said Jill Medvedow of the ICA Boston, which is partly overseeing the 2022 Venice presentation. “At such a crucial moment in history, I can think of no better artist to represent the United States.”

Indeed, the vitality of Leigh’s art lies partly in the way she addresses previously overlooked elements within American culture. “Employing a rich matrix of cultural signifiers from African, African-American and Caribbean history, she crafts works in clay,” explains the entry in Vitamin C: Clay and Ceramic in Contemporary Art, “to recall traumas from the past and to suggest alternatives for a future that empowers black women.”

 

Simone Leigh, Untitled VI (Anatomy of Architecture series), 2016, terracotta, glaze, 58.4 × 33 × 33 cm (23 × 13 × 13 inches). Courtesy of the artist / Luhring Augustine, New York. As reproduced in Vitamin C 

And the artist’s work isn’t limited to kiln; she also stages installations, performances, creates videos, photographs and works of social practice. Leigh herself describes her art as ‘auto-ethnographic’ which is a pretty good shorthand for the way in which she combines cowrie shells and the shape of traditional, African dwellings in art, alongside watermelons and other totemic objects, which seem to pass comment on racial stereotypes, while also offering new ways to think about black women’s place in society. 

Manhattanites may recognize one of Leigh’s largest works, Brick House, a 16-feet-tall bronze of a black woman, currently on display at the High Line at the Spur, at 30th St. and 10th Ave. The sculpture, which combines the forms of forms of a skirt and a clay house, takes its name from the 1977 Commodores’ song, which, as the artist explains, “was a celebration of black womanhood that we hadn’t really heard. That was what was resonant about it - not necessarily a male gaze but that beauty was associated with mightiness and strength, as opposed to fragility.”

  Simone Leigh, Brick House, 2019. A High Line Plinth commission. Courtesy of the High Line; photograph by Timothy Schenck


Visitors (hopefully) to the 2022 Biennale can expect to see a similarly solid presence. Leigh’s presentation will include a monumental bronze sculpture in the U.S. Pavilion’s outdoor forecourt, as well as interrelated works in ceramic, bronze, and raffia, populating the Pavilion’s five gallery space.

 

Simone Leigh, Premye, 2011

If you like what you see why not consider purchasing this 2011 photograph by the artist? Entitled Premye - a Haitian creole word for ‘first’ - the color photograph is made with archival pigments on fine art rag paper and shows one of Leigh’s highly decorated cowrie shell sculptures, an undeniably pretty work that nevertheless recalls the monetary, religious, and decorative functions these shells once played in Africa and Asia, as well as references to fertility and femininity. Find out more here.

DISCOVER

a treasure trove of fine art from the world's most renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. We offer exclusive works you can't find anywhere else.

LEARN

through exclusive content featuring art news, collecting guides, and interviews with artists, dealers, collectors, curators and influencers.

BUY

authentic artworks from across the globe. Collecting with us means you're helping to sustain creative culture and supporting organizations that are making the world a better place.

CONNECT

with our art advisors for buying advice or to help you find the art that's perfect for you. We have the resources to find works that suit your needs.

INSIDER ACCESS TO THE WORLD'S BEST ART

Artspace offers you authentic, exclusive works from world-renowned artists, galleries, museums and cultural institutions. Collecting with us helps support creative culture while bringing you art news, interviews and access to global art resources.

  • COLLECT FROM 300+ GALLERIES & MUSEUMS