Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- The female figure in Corrugated sits on top of a base that can be seen as a skirt or an abstracted body. The curved and ridged base references industrial architecture, a recurring theme in Leigh’s work.
- Corrugated has ties to the African continent with its raffia cape, a material often used in African art.
- Leigh’s female figures are shown without eyes, keeping the figures abstract and anonymous.
- Many of Leigh’s portraits have a slight tilt of the chin or stance to convey a depth of emotion. Her art shows the power and beauty of Black femininity, solid and enduring.
Originally trained as a ceramicist, Simone Leigh’s body of work now includes sound and video installations, performance, monumental bronze sculptures, and smaller-scale mixed media, ceramic and bronze sculptures. Leigh’s work explores race, gender, and history but is primarily focused on the female form and Black female identity. Leigh’s sculptures are often combinations of the human form, vessels, and architectural elements. Depicted without eyes, her female portraits refuse to acknowledge the traditional art historical gaze forced upon female subjects. For Leigh, removing the eyes is also a way of abstracting the face and maintaining the anonymity of her subject.
The figure in Corrugated sits on a base that also can be read as a voluminous skirt or an abstracted body. The curved, corrugated form of the body/base/skirt references industrial architecture or equipment, such as corrugated metal pipe or roofing material. Adorned with a raffia cape, a material that is often used in African art, the work can also be presented without the raffia element.
Inspired by African and African diasporic art spanning centuries, including historical African-American face jugs made by enslaved people, Leigh’s female figures are commanding presences, capable of holding a space much larger than their physical form. Quietly powerful and inwardly focused, they are stable and grounded with serene expressions. In her portraits, a subtle but very precise tilt of the chin or stance conveys a depth of emotion. Focusing on Black female identity and experience, her works present the power and beauty of Black femininity. Leigh stated, “I just like the idea of thinking about femininity in a different way, as something solid and enduring rather than always fragile and weak.”
Hauser & Wirth
Article with bibliography, links to news stories and exhibition information.
Article about Leigh’s art, her career, and the ideas that guide her work.
The New York Times
Article about Leigh’s work, her inspirations, and her movement into the mainstream art world.
Donated by Thomas S. Kenan, III