On the occasion of the newly announced representation of Diane Simpson, James Cohan is pleased to present Diane Simpson: 1977-1980, a historic exhibition of the artist’s foundational cardboard sculptures, on view from February 15 through March 23, 2024 at 48 Walker Street. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.
For over four decades, Simpson has created rigorously constructed sculptures drawn from clothing, furniture, utilitarian objects, and architectural sources. Attentive to the formal qualities of these vernacular references, Simpson playfully alternates between two and three dimensional space by creating schematic drawings or plans of her various subjects and then, using the same tricks of pictorial illusion, translating them back into actual space. The results are curiously flattened three dimensional versions of familiar objects executed in a wide range of materials, from linoleum to perforated metal.
This exhibition celebrates Simpson’s earliest sculptures, made in the late 1970s. This was a rich period of invention for the artist, exemplified by a significant shift in her practice from drawing and printmaking to sculpture – a generative leap from graphic to physical space. In the later part of her graduate studies, Simpson explored axonometric projection. In this visualization technique, a drawn shape is rotated axially away from the picture plane to reveal multiple sides of the object at once. This familiar method for depicting space dates as far back as ancient Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings, as in the 17th-century illustrations of The Tale of Genji, and later shows up in areas as diverse as Suprematist compositions and 19th-century architectural elevations.