Sanford Biggers - AMERICAN AFRICAN AMERICAN New York Friday, February 8, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    The Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born 1970, Los Angeles, CA
    Lives and works in Harlem, NY

    1999 MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
    1996 BA, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA

    Selected honors: Rome Prize in Visual Arts (2017), Creative Capital Award (2008)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Menil Collection, Houston; MoMA PS1, Queens, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
    Selected public collections: Brooklyn Museum; MoMA; Studio Museum in Harlem; Walker Museum of Art, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

    Pursuing a multi-disciplinary formal process, Sanford Biggers creates artworks that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, textile, music and performance. Engaging with the past to help better understand the present, Biggers intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new contemporary perspectives and associations for established symbols. History is not a thing of the past for Sanford Biggers, but an ongoing current that he confronts head on. “We revisit history in order to add a different context and meaning to it,” he has said. “I often think of history itself as a material—a malleable material.”

    Viewing himself as a collaborator with the work of the African and African American artists and artisans who came before him, Biggers borrows, enhances and memorializes their work, as well as their struggles, through his own object-making. He has done so, for example, by turning his attention to the signs and symbols embedded in quilts that were purportedly used to help slaves escape north along the Underground Railroad. Investing the quilt form with new meaning and adding his own set of abstract codes as he cuts, re-sews and embellishes antique quilts, Biggers constructs modern statements on the state of America.

    In BAM (Seated Warrior Queen), Biggers has created a bronze of cast a life-size warrior based on a small wooden African sculptures that he has marked and mutilated. To Biggers, damaged sculptures are “power objects” like African Nkisi — wooden figures embedded with shards of glass, mirrors or nails, totems with spiritual energy. Although sharp objects penetrate the bodies violently, as traditional artisans believed, Biggers said, “They create power in these sculptures and give that object strength, to help ward off evil and promise good luck and prosperity for the people.” By expanding the sculpture in size, he both hides and exaggerates the violence done to the original – confronting the viewer with a jarring juxtaposition of spirituality and the contemporary epidemic of violence inflicted against African Americans.


BAM (Seated Warrior Queen)

bronze with silver nitrate patina and HD video
40 x 5 x 6 in. (101.6 x 12.7 x 15.2 cm.)
Executed in 2017, this work is unique from a series of 3.

Estimate On Request


New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019