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Lorna Simpson
9 Props
Waterless lithograph on wool felt panel, 9 panels
Edition of 30
Each: 14-1/4 x 10-1/4 inches
Gift of The Peter Norton Family Foundation, 1998

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Excerpt from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:

In 9 Props Simpson challenges preconceived notions about what constitutes a portrait. Rather than depicting actual people, she photographs nine surrogates  vases and bowls that are based on objects in the portraits taken by famed Harlem photographer James VanDerZee in the 1920s, 30s, and 80s. Working with the artisans at Pilchuck Glass School (Seattle, WA), where she was an artist-in-residence, Simpson had the photograph vessels replicated in black glass. Her captions below each "prop" describe the people, clothing, and furnishings in VanDerZee’s original photographs. Unlike VanDerZee’s pictures, however, which seem tied to a particular time and place, Simpson’s conceptual portraits are enigmatic and open-ended, relying on the incongruity of her words and images to suggest meaning and context, but without providing obvious answers.


Provocative Visions: Race and Identity: Selections from the Permanent Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Related Links:

Provocative Visions: Race and Identity - A Panel Discussion, Met Media, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The persistence of memory  | Lorna Simpson, Artist, 2013
TED x Met, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Additional Information

Lorna Simpson: Selected Biographies on Art in Context

Lorna Simpson: Related Links
on Art in Context


Lorna Simpson, American, (1960– )
b. August 13, 1960, Brooklyn, NY

Art in Context - Projects:
Art in Context - Art for the Day: August 13

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