Simone Leigh, the Celebrated Sculptor Who Left Hauser and Wirth After Less Than Two Years, Has Joined Matthew Marks

The artist is representing the U.S. in the Venice Biennale next year.

Simone Leigh at Stratton Sculpture Studios in 2020. Photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis, courtesy of the artist. © Simone Leigh.
Simone Leigh at Stratton Sculpture Studios in 2020. Photo by Shaniqwa Jarvis, courtesy of the artist. © Simone Leigh.

After leaving Hauser and Wirth last month, Simone Leigh has found a new gallery. The artist, who is representing the U.S. at the 59th Venice Biennale next year, is now represented by Matthew Marks, the top-flight New York dealer who also represents the likes of Vija Celmins, Jasper Johns, and Martin Puryear, who in 2019 represented the U.S. in Venice.

Leigh made her debut with the gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach, which opened to VIPs this morning. A porcelain bust of a woman was installed front and center in the booth. Priced at $400,000, it sold just before the fair opened, according to the gallery.

The gallery said that Leigh’s first show has not yet been scheduled since she has been tied up making work for Venice.

Questions swirled about where Leigh, one of the most celebrated sculptors working today, would land after she announced that she was parting ways with Hauser and Wirth after less than two years.

Simone Leigh, <i>Untitled,</i> 2021. © Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

Simone Leigh, Untitled, 2021. © Simone Leigh, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.

“I love and respect the people I worked with at Hauser and Wirth,” Leigh said in a statement at the time. “But I do not feel the gallery is the right fit for me in the wider sense. 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 $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize in 2017, and the prestigious $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize—which comes with a solo show at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—in 2018. She is the first Black woman to represent the U.S. in Venice.

Notably 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 terra cotta and porcelain figure adorned in raffia.

Leigh’s Venice Biennale pavilion is being commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, which is also organizing her first survey exhibition, slated for 2023.

Asked if the artist would comment on her new move, and why this particular gallery relationship felt right, a representative for the gallery said she would pass the request along—but emphasized that Leigh is, at the moment, entirely focused on Venice.


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