Lorna Simpson
American photographer



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Lorna Simpson
American photographer
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Lorna Simpson must feel so good to have a bunch of fancy museums are clamoring to buy her artwork.

But she pretty much hit it out of the park when Vogue wanted to write a feature on her. Speaking of which, Lorna Simpson is just one of those lucky gals whose work demands attention from every culturally relevant institution, be it a gallery space or a fashion magazine.

How did Simpson become so important that even Vogue felt like writing a piece about her? I know what you’re thinking: it’s because she’s literally done a piece called Hair. Did Vogue want to do a spread titled “Hairstyles on Fleek, by Actual Artists” featuring Simpson’s selection of wigs? That would’ve been cute, but no. Simpson’s work has been touching on subjects like identity, race and gender since the 1980s and hair has been making regular appearances in her photographs as a symbol of these issues.

Simpson also often juxtaposes text (of sinister yet humorous proportions) with her photographic works. Are you thinking Barbara Kruger? Stylistically, you could go there, but personally I think Lorna Simpson goes further than Kruger because her text + photo pieces are not just about women, but are also discussing issues of race as well. More specifically: African American women. Probably why her stuff was also chosen for the Venice Biennale in 1990. FYI, she was also the first ever African American female artist to shown at the VB. Couldn’t have picked a better artist to showcase your racial diversity, Venice Biennale. Well played.




  1. Vogue, “Lorna Simpson on Hair and Her New Exclusive Ebony Collages”, (Last accessed February 25, 2017)
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Lorna Simpson," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopaedia, (Last accessed February 28, 2017)

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson (born 13 August 1960) is an African-American photographer and multimedia artist who made her name in the 1980s and 1990s with artworks such as Guarded Conditions and Square Deal. Her works have been included in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally. She is best known for her photo-text installations, photocollages, and films.

Early life and education

Lorna Simpson was born on August 13, 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the High School of Art and Design. Her parents – a Jamaican-Cuban father and African-American mother – had moved from the Midwest to New York and took her to numerous plays, museums, concerts, and dance performances. In the summers, Simpson took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago while visiting her grandmother.

Simpson later attended the School of Visual Arts in New York where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography in 1983. During that time, she interned at the Studio Museum in Harlem, seeing up close the practice of David Hammons, among others, who was an artist in residence. After receiving her BFA, she traveled to Europe and Africa, developing skills in documentary photography, her earliest works. While traveling, she became inspired to expand her work beyond the field of photography in order to challenge and engage the viewer. Later, she worked as a graphic designer.

While earning her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1985 Simpson worked on expanding her ideas further. Her education in San Diego was somewhere between Photography and Conceptual art, and her teachers included conceptualist Allan Kaprow, performance artist Eleanor Antin, filmmakers Babette Mangolte, Jean-Pierre Gorin and poet David Antin. What emerged was her signature style of "photo-text". In these photos Simpson inserted graphic text into studio-like portraiture. In doing this Simpson brought an entirely new conceptual meaning to the works. These works generally related to the perception of African-American women within American culture.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Lorna Simpson.