The Artsy Vanguard 2019: Diane Simpson
Diane Simpson by Isabel Asha Penzlien. Courtesy of the artist and JTT, New York.
Diane Simpson, Window 4, Window Dressing: Apron VI, 2003/2007. Courtesy of the artist; Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago; and JTT, New York.
Diane Simpson’s abstract constructions—made with industrial materials like fiberboard, steel, linoleum, and rivets—allude to the labor of women and to traditional forms of femininity. At the same time, Simpson challenges functionality and our ideas of domestic and industrial work. As an artist, she reveres axonometric projection, depicting three-dimensional objects on flat surfaces. In these handmade structures, Simpson has also drawn upon references including Art Deco architecture and Japanese samurai armor.
The artist has been creating large sculptures and intricate architectural drawings since the 1970s. Working without assistants, Simpson has maintained a successful, long-term practice. In the past four years, the 84-year-old artist has received much-deserved accolades, with five solo exhibitions and inclusion in many group shows, including this year’s prestigious Whitney Biennial. Simpson shows with the young tastemaking JTT gallery on the Lower East Side, as well as Chicago’s Corbett vs. Dempsey, and London’s Herald St.
Diane Simpson, Peplum IV, 2015. Courtesy of the artist; Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago; and JTT, New York.
Simpson’s work at the Whitney Biennial takes over the museum’s ground floor gallery. There, she delves into the sociological roles that clothing plays, through the pieces Lambrequin and Peplum (2017) and Window Dressing: Background 4, April VI (2003/2007). According to biennial co-curator Jane Panetta, “Diane’s work thoughtfully combines source imagery ranging from architectural details to historical garment design, routinely proposing new forms that suggest the possibility of fortifying the body in the world, through this focused dialogue around both clothing and architecture.”