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Simone Leigh

American  •  b. 1967


Born in Chicago and currently working in Brooklyn, New York, Simone Leigh is celebrated for her ground-breaking sculptural practice. Having studied ceramic traditions of West Africa and Native America, Leigh transforms ordinary materials into unflinching sculptures and shapes a conceptual arena for identity politics—exploring the complexity of blackness and visual representation of black bodies. She endows everyday signs with metaphors for black female subjectivity that simultaneously challenge stereotypes associated with African art.

The artist first rose to prominence in 2016, on the occasion of her solo exhibition at the New Museum, New York, immediately followed by her show at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Cementing her rapid ascent to the contemporary canon, Leigh’s inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, her solo show at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and the inaugural ‘Plinth’ project on the New York High Line, launched in June 2019, have collectively stunned critics and public.


  • Leigh’s sculptural work, which coalesces various visual sources, conveys totemic qualities.

  • The artist has received numerous awards and honors, including the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Wein Artist Prize in 2017 and the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize in 2018.

  • Entitled Brick House, the artist’s 2019 ‘Plinth’ project on the New York High Line consists of an almost 5-meter-high bronze bust whose torso is combined with the shape of a skirt and a clay house.

  • Phillips presented Simone Leigh’s Shower Cap, 2013, made of stoneware, porcelain and plastic, as Lot 1 in our 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, London, October 2019. The work sold for £175,000 against a pre-auction estimate of £40,000 - 60,000.

"In Western cultures there is a stated separation between style and substance; there is an idea of the object and the decoration. Black aesthetics deny this separation."

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