Simone Leigh

a black bronze sculpture with a satellite on top of the body stands on a pedestal in front of the Hirshhorn museum.

Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago) represented the United States at the 2022 Venice Biennale, one of the largest and most important contemporary art exhibitions in the world. Selections from Leigh’s landmark Venice presentation are making their U.S. premiere in Boston, joined by key works from throughout her career, providing a holistic understanding of the artist’s production in ceramic, bronze, and video.

For over two decades, Leigh has embraced a polyphonic artistic vocabulary that elaborates on Black feminist thought, an intellectual tradition which values and centers the experiences of Black women. Informed by a rigorous attention to a wide swath of historical periods, geographies, and artistic traditions of Africa and the African diaspora, Leigh often combines the female body with domestic vessels or architectural elements to point to unacknowledged acts of labor and care, particularly among and for Black women. For her presentation at the Hirshhorn, the artist will include three new bronze sculptures, “Bisi”, “Herm” and “Vessel” (2023) within the galleries. Leigh’s monumental bronze, “Satellite” (2022) which stood sentry outside the U.S. Pavilion in Venice, has been installed at the entrance to the Hirshhorn on the southern plaza to signal the exhibition’s arrival.

Clay forms the basis of most of Leigh’s artworks, including her bronze sculptures, which are first modeled in clay. The artist pushes the medium’s possibilities through scale and method, challenging conventional, hierarchical fine arts histories, which can still attach to ceramics associations around women’s labor, decoration, domestic crafts, and utility. This exhibition traces the artist’s unique visual language through signature motifs, including cowrie shells, braiding, rosettes, face vessels, and eyeless faces. Through Leigh’s re-performing of these forms in varying materials and scales, new structures of thought and meanings emerge, each consistently centering the experiences and intellectual labor of Black femmes.

Accompanied by a major monograph, this exhibition offers visitors a timely opportunity to experience the complex and profoundly moving work of this groundbreaking artist.

“Simone Leigh” arrives at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (November 3, 2023-March 3, 2024) from ICA Boston where it was organized by Eva Respini, formerly Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Lee, Chief Curator with Anni A. Pullagura, Assistant Curator. The exhibition will next travel as a joint presentation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles (May 26, 2024-January 20, 2025).



Simone Leigh: Sovereignty at the U.S. Pavilion of La Biennale di Venezia

Simone Leigh Venice 2022 Sneak Peek

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For Kids

Hirshhorn Kids connects art lovers ages 0-12 with art, artists, and ideas. 


Mobile Synchronized Captions

This exhibition contains video and sound works.

Access synchronized captions, Bluetooth sound connectivity, transcripts, and multi-lingual captions on your personal device during your visit.

Find activated works in this exhibition here.

Access Brochure

For wall text, transcripts, and descriptions of the works on view click here.

Limited print versions are available at the Welcome Desk in the lobby. 

Recommended Reading

The Hirshhorn’s Lerner Room features a library of resources on Black feminism, in partnership with Sankofa Video, Books & Café, a sanctuary for Pan-African culture since 1998, and highlights the U.S. Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale. See a list of recommended books.

Additional Resources

In the News

Simone Leigh is organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Anni A. Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant.

With warmest thanks, the ICA/Boston gratefully acknowledges the following philanthropic partners for their magnificent support.

Ford Foundation
Mellon Foundation logo

Major support is provided by the Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.

eu2be logo

Lead corporate support is provided by eu2be.

Logo for Bloomberg Philanthropies
Logo for Girlfriend Donor Advised Fund

Generous support is provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser, Girlfriend Fund, and Wagner Foundation

Logo for TERRA Foundation for American Art
Henry Luce Foundation logo

Leadership gifts are provided by Amy and David Abrams, Stephanie Formica Connaughton and John Connaughton, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, James and Audrey Foster, Agnes Gund, Jodi and Hal Hess, Hostetler/Wrigley Foundation, Barbara and Amos Hostetter, Brigette Lau Collection, Henry Luce Foundation, Kristen and Kent Lucken, Tristin and Martin Mannion, Ted Pappendick and Erica Gervais Pappendick, Gina and Stuart Peterson, Helen and Charles Schwab, and Terra Foundation for American Art

Helen Frankenthaler Foundation logo

Essential support is also provided by Suzanne Deal Booth, Kate and Chuck Brizius, Richard Chang, Karen and Brian Conway, Steven Corkin and Dan Maddalena, Federico Martin Castro Debernardi, Jennifer Epstein and Bill Keravuori, Esta Gordon Epstein and Robert Epstein, Negin and Oliver Ewald, Alison and John Ferring, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, Vivien and Alan Hassenfeld and the Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Peggy J. Koenig and Family, The Holly Peterson Foundation, David and Leslie Puth, Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, Leslie Riedel and Scott Friend, Mark and Marie Schwartz,  Kim Sinatra, Tobias and Kristin Welo, Lise and Jeffrey Wilks, Kelly Williams and Andrew Forsyth, Nicole Zatlyn and Jason Weiner, Jill and Nick Woodman, Marilyn Lyng and Dan O’Connell, Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg Foundation, Kate and Ajay Agarwal, Eunhak Bae and Robert Kwak, Jeremiah Schneider Joseph, Barbara H. Lloyd, Cynthia and John Reed, and Anonymous donors.