Backdrops Circa 1940s

Various artists/makers

Not on view

In Backdrops, Circa 1940, Simpson combines the image of an anonymous woman balancing on a crescent moon with a cropped picture of singer and activist Lena Horne from the set of the 1943 movie I Dood It. Because of racist regulations, Horne’s musical scenes were cut from the version of the film sent to Southern venues, an affront Simpson alludes to by positioning the photograph at the edge of the sheet. However, by showing Horne’s image enlarged and paired with that of the anonymous woman, Simpson imagines an alternative history where Horne is singing and celebrated. Text below the images indicates that they both date to the 1940s, allowing the artist to contrast their sense of nostalgia and glamor with the brutal history of the decade.

Backdrops Circa 1940s, Lorna Simpson (American, born Brooklyn, New York, 1960), Screenprint diptych on felt panels

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