Artist Sanford Biggers '92 remixes centuries of Art History in a slew of new solo shows this FallOctober 2, 2023
Acclaimed artist Sanford Biggers '92 is currently the subject of solo shows at Marianne Boesky in New York and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago, and he will also debut two marble sculptures at the Newark Museum of Art in New Jersey on October 20. A history buff since his time at Morehouse College in Atlanta, his practice draws its spirit—or aura, as he calls it—and substance from his creative forebears, in particular the master quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
“That was always a very contentious point for me in [college workshops] because the artists that I was really into are embraced by the craft community as well as the art community, and they were able to sort of bridge that gap: the tension between craft and ‘high art,’ gendered work and soft versus hard, permanent and impermanent,” he said.
"Over the past two decades, the 53-year-old Los Angeles native has sidestepped classifications of painter, sculptor, seamster, or collagist. He’s not being evasive; just one work can be graphic and sculptural, soft and hard, functional and precious. His best-known pieces begin with an old quilt, mounted on a wall. He teases out its next form, variably laying strips of paint or adding three-dimensional elements, setting scissors to the pattern, extracting and supplementing it with fabric of his own design.
“Most of them are pre-1900, so I imagine this cross-generational conversation,” Biggers told ARTnews during a visit to his studio in the Bronx. “And if you think there were codes or messages or some type of communication going on in the original one, what would I be able to add to that conversation? So I make myself think about where I am temporarily in relation to that piece. I don’t need to echo what they said.”
"He continued, “The closest way of looking at it might be sampling, but not sampling where there was a hit song in the ’60s, and you just copied it and put some lyrics on it. I’m thinking more like DJ Premier, somebody who really transforms a song.” - ARTNews