Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Simone Leigh

Artist - Sculptural meditations on Black femininity and feminism

4 in 2023

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Photo: Shaniqwa Jarvis

Leigh took her Golden Lion-winning turn at the 2022 Venice Biennale to Boston in April, showing nine of the works from the US Pavilion at the city’s Institute of Contemporary Art, part of a survey of 29 examples of the artist’s powerful sculptural meditations on Black femininity and feminism, ranging from Satellite (2022), an over-seven-metre-tall bronze semiabstract female figure, to the early video Breakdown (2011, created with Liz Magic Laser and in collaboration with Alicia Hall Moran), in which an opera singer recites narratives of fictional breakdowns. On the Boston waterfront the artist placed Last Garment (2022), a bronze sculpture based on a nineteenth-century Jamaican washerwoman. The exhibition travelled to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, in November, and a new edition of another Venice work by Leigh, Sentinel (2022), entered the collection of the city’s National Gallery of Art in August. Such institutional acclaim naturally helps the bottom line: in May Leigh’s 2019 bronze Stick sold for a record $2.7m at auction.

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