After leaving Hauser and Wirth last month, Simone Leigh has found a new gallery. The artist, who will be representing the US at the 59th Venice Biennale next year, is now represented by Matthew Marks, New York’s top dealer who also represents Vija Celmins, Jasper Johns and Martin Puryear, who will represent the US in Venice in 2019.
Leigh made her debut at the gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach, which opened to VIPs this morning. A porcelain bust of a woman was installed centrally in the cabin. According to the gallery, it cost $400,000 and was sold just before the fair opened.
The gallery said Leigh’s first show is not yet scheduled since she’s tied up creating work for Venice.
Questions arose about where Leigh, one of the most celebrated sculptors working today, would end up after announcing that she would be parting ways with Hauser and Wirth after less than two years.
“I love and respect the people I’ve worked with at Hauser and Wirth,” Leigh said in a statement at the time. “But I don’t feel that the gallery in the broad sense is the right choice for me. I’m still figuring out what I want from a primary gallery relationship.”
(Before Hauser and Wirth, Leigh was represented by Luhring Augustine in New York and David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles.)
Leigh’s profile has risen sharply in recent years. She won the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize of $50,000 in 2017, and the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize of $100,000 – which comes with a solo exhibition at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – in 2018. She is the first black woman to represent the US in Venice.
Particularly for an artist of her stature, her auction prices remain in line with, if not slightly below, her primary market prices. Her auction record, set in October 2020, stands at $403,200 for no face (house) (2020), a terracotta and porcelain figure decorated with raffia.
Leigh’s Venice Biennale Pavilion is being commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, which is also hosting its first retrospective, scheduled for 2023.
Asked if the artist would comment on her new move, and why this particular gallery relationship felt right, a representative from the gallery said she would pass on the request, but emphasized that Leigh is fully focused on Venice at the moment.
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