Lorna Simpson. Wigs (Portfolio). 1994

Lorna Simpson Wigs (Portfolio) 1994

  • Not on view

Among the subjects of Simpson's art is the experience of African American women in contemporary American society, a topic that encompasses issues of race and gender. Since 1990 African American hairstyles, which, over the centuries, have taken on social and political implications, have been some of her motifs. Depicted here is a diverse group of wigs in an orderly presentation that suggests a lineup of scientific specimens. Many types of styles are represented, from the short, fuzzy-textured Afro at the upper left to a wig of long, silky blond hair near the upper right. Text panels interspersed among the wigs record Simpson's wide-ranging commentary on their use by women, entertainers, and transvestites. The wig's potential as an instrument for conformity, metamorphosis, and concealment is thereby underscored.

Simpson has used the traditional format of the print portfolio in which a sequence of images produces a cumulative, narrative effect. The images have a tactile, suggestive quality as they isolate hair as an important aspect of self-image that affects a deeper sense of overall reality.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 334.
Medium
Portfolio of twenty-one lithographs on felt, with seventeen lithographed felt text panels
Dimensions
overall: 6' x 13' 6" (182.9 x 411.5 cm)
Credit
Purchased with funds given by Agnes Gund, Howard B. Johnson, and Emily Fisher Landau
Object number
745.1995.1-38
Copyright
© 2018 Lorna Simpson
Department
Drawings and Prints

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