Wigs Artist: Lorna Simpson (American, born 1960)


Prints and Drawings

Traditionally considered, together with costumes, as a vehicle of transformation and metamorphosis, wigs symbolize an act of self-fashioning and self-representation. The wigs in Lorna Simpson’s installation, however, are vacant and oriented away from the viewer, thus obscuring the subject(s) that might wear them. Consequently, the wigs become the sole marker by which a viewer can hypothesize the physical, racial, and sexual identity of the anonymous body. By removing the body, Simpson prompts the viewer to recognize the cultural assumptions implicit in the viewing of various hairstyles, such as those that are braided or woven, as characteristically African American.


Portfolio of waterless lithographs printed on felt: 21 images and 17 text panels


as exhibited: 72 × 162 in. (182.9 × 411.5 cm)

Credit Line

Katharine Ordway Fund

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

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