an image of a black bronze sculpture of female bust, below the bust is a rectangular black block of bronze with a leg protruding behind the figure

September 27, 2023

Hirshhorn Museum PresentsSimone Leigh,” First Museum Survey Exhibition Dedicated to the Artist on Its National Tour
Installation Will Debut Three New Sculptures Alongside Artworks from Leigh’s U.S. Representation at 2022 Venice Biennale; On View Nov. 3—March 3, 2024

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present “Simone Leigh,” bringing the first museum survey of the acclaimed artist’s artworks before a national audience in Washington, D.C.

Leigh represented the United States at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, through a commission by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA). Curated in tandem to that landmark presentation, the exhibition “Simone Leigh” will showcase works from Leigh’s Venice exhibition alongside three new bronze sculptures, which will be shown for the first time at the Hirshhorn, Nov. 3—March 3, 2024. Leigh’s full-floor installation will also feature key early works and video to demonstrate her consistent and careful attention to the creative and critical labor of Black women across almost 20 years of highly disciplined practice.

“We are honored to collaborate with Simone Leigh on this exhibition, which offers a point-of-view that expands beyond our founding tradition—with modernist sculpture central to Joseph Hirshhorn’s collection and the basis for this Museum—with her singular and necessary perspective,” said Melissa Chiu, Hirshhorn director. We thank the artist and ICA for their partnership.”

Over the past two decades, Leigh has created works of art that situate questions of Black femme, or female-identified, subjectivity at the center of contemporary art discourse. Her sculpture, video, installation, and social practice explore ideas of race, beauty and community in visual and material culture. Leigh’s art addresses a wide swath of historical periods, geographies  and traditions, with specific references to vernacular and hand-made processes from across the African diaspora, as well as forms traditionally associated with African art and ritual, all while mining historical gaps, inaccuracies and fallacies.

“Simone Leigh” will feature sculpture in an array of Leigh’s material vocabulary, including ceramic, bronze, and raffia. A selection of her table-top ceramics will accentuate her fluency in the medium, including references to the Black American folk and self-taught art traditions of stoneware face vessels—citations that are present in her large ceramic works, which draw on the vernacular traditions of the American South, Caribbean and African continent, and challenge traditional hierarchies of art and labor. These works, at both intimate and large scale, reference domestic vessels such as bowls and jugs merged with explorations of the body. For the Hirshhorn’s presentation, the artist will introduce three recent sculptures: “Bisi” (2023), “Herm” (2023) and “Vessel” (2023). Leigh’s attention to the Black female form over time and in various materials underlines her consistent vision.

Prior to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, a version of this traveling exhibition was presented at the ICA/Boston. The tour will conclude in a joint presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and California African American Museum from June 2024 through January 2025. The first comprehensive scholarly monograph on Leigh’s work, co-published by the ICA/Boston and DelMonico Books—including images of works on view and installation views from Leigh’s Venice presentation as well as images of work from throughout her career—accompanies the exhibition. “Simone Leigh” was organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs, Vancouver Art Gallery (former Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston), with Anni Pullagura, Assistant Curator, ICA/Boston. The Hirshhorn’s presentation has been coordinated by Curator Anne Reeve with support from CJ Greenhill Caldera, Curatorial Assistant.

About Simone Leigh

Simone Leigh’s (b. Chicago, 1967) works in sculpture, video, and installation—all are informed by her ongoing exploration of the experiences of Black femmes. Her work traverses across time, geography, and cultures, and her objects often employ materials and forms traditionally associated with African art and vernacular traditions across the African Diaspora.

Leigh’s monumental sculpture “Brick House” was installed on the High Line Plinth, New York from 2019 to 2021. She received the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize in 2018 and has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2019); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2016); Studio Museum in Harlem in Marcus Garvey Park, New York (2016); Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (with Chitra Ganesh, 2016); the New Museum, New York (2016); Creative Time and Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn (2014); and The Kitchen, New York (2014). She has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2019); 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2018); New Museum, New York (2017); MoMA PS1 (2015); and Dak’ Art 11th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal (2014). Her work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the ICA/Boston, among others.

About the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Its holdings encompass one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time—free to all. The Hirshhorn Museum is open daily, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (except Dec. 25). For more information, visit Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Image: Simone Leigh, “Herm” (2023). Bronze, 98 x 30 x 28 inches (249 x 76 x 71 cm). ©Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Photo by Timothy Schenck.

Exhibition Credits

The U.S. Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia was co-commissioned by Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director, and Eva Respini, Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs, Vancouver Art Gallery (Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA).

Simone Leigh is organized by Eva Respini, Deputy Director and Director of Curatorial Programs, Vancouver Art Gallery (Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA), with Anni A. Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant.

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


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


Lead corporate support is provided by eu2be.

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


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 the Terra Foundation for American Art

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.