Since the mid-1980s, Lorna Simpson has examined the interplay between fact and fiction, identity and history, in works that combine text and image. Using both found images and studio photography, Simpson undermines assumptions about history and identity, subjecting them to insightful reexamination.

May June July August ’57/’09 is a selection of 123 photographs from a larger series that brings together two kinds of images: found pin-up images of young African-American women posing in Los Angeles in 1957 and the artist’s precise replication of these images in 2009. The juxtaposition of the photographs blurs the lines between history and contemporary art, creating a fictionalized narrative that appears to link the characters. Part archival exploration and part performance, May June July August ’57/’09 is a complex investigation of history, femininity, and race.

Simpson is a preeminent contemporary artist whose exploration of race and identity changed late twentieth-century art history. Joining another important work by Simpson in the ICA/Boston collection, this selection of images helps illustrate the remarkable breadth of her practice.


Promised gift of Beth and Richard Marcus