Zoe Leonard: Survey

11 November 2018–25 March 2019

Exhibition Overview


Zoe Leonard, How to Make Good Pictures (detail), 2016.

Zoe Leonard: Survey is a major mid-career retrospective of the work of Zoe Leonard, one of the foremost artists of her generation. The exhibition is the first to assess the extraordinary range of the artist's achievements over more than three decades of her career to date.

Leonard has made photographs, sculptures, and installations that are celebrated for their lyrical observations of daily life, as well as for their rigorous, questioning attention to the politics and conditions of image-making and display. Her work is wide-ranging in both form and subject matter, addressing themes including gender and sexuality, loss and mourning, migration, displacement, the history of photography, and the urban landscape. Using repetition, subtle changes of perspective, and shifts of scale, Leonard reframes images and objects in ways that challenge the viewer to follow her path of inquiry and reexamine the familiar from every possible angle.

"Leonard is one of the most sensitive and perceptive observers. But her work is far from objective or documentary—it is full of her piercing and profound vision as it asks us to bear witness to the details of daily life that often remain overlooked and unseen," says Simpson.

Zoe Leonard: Survey brings together approximately one hundred key works from across Leonard's career, dating from the mid-1980s until today. Among the installations to be presented is Tree (1997), a landmark work of the 1990s, on view in Los Angeles for the first time. Composed of a tree carved into pieces and reassembled using metal plates, bolts, and wires, the work is a melancholic and meditative questioning of the intersection of nature and culture, while it also suggests themes of displacement, fragmentation, and reconstruction. In addition, the exhibition includes 1961 (2002-), vintage blue suitcases arranged in a single row. One of several sculptures Leonard made in the early 2000s, the work is unique in its additive nature. Leonard, who was born in 1961, adds a suitcase to this sculpture for each year of her life.

(Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne. Photo by Simon Vogel.)

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