Corbett vs. Dempsey is very pleased to present its first solo exhibition of new sculpture and drawings by Diane Simpson. Since her earliest shows at Artemisia and the Phyllis Kind Gallery in the late 1970s, Simpson has been a major force in Chicago sculpture. Indeed, Simpson straddles several generations in Chicago art; she attended the School of the Art Institute in the mid 1950s, received her MFA there in 1971, where she was friends with Imagist artists including Christina Ramberg and Ray Yoshida, and she has maintained deep connections with the abstract conceptual artists of the 1980s, including Richard Rezac and Julia Fish.
Exploring a liminal zone between abstraction and figuration, her sculpture starts with intensive studies in fashion, extracting the human (left as an insinuation) and focusing on the architecture of the attire, its inherent tensions and relaxations, out of which Simpson extrapolates entirely original forms. A collar, a cuff, a hem - each part of a piece of clothing is fodder for formal play, deconstruction and reconstruction. An intense and detail-fixated craftswoman, firmly in the same Windy City tradition as H.C. Westermann, she has worked in diverse materials, including cardboard, MDF, wood, fabric, paper, aluminum, and vintage linoleum, all with a meticulous finish and an aggressive sense of design.
Early in her career, Simpson introduced a way of making 3-D work that translated from drawings, concentrating on the 45-degree angles that helped define a certain kind of perspective. She continues this investigation with an important new piece, based on the same set of calculations, as well as unveiling new freestanding, wall hanging, and shelf-based works. Along with these new sculptures, Corbett vs. Dempsey presents several new drawings, executed on graph paper, which stand both as studies for the sculptures and fully-realized, independent works on paper.
Simpson was the subject of a retrospective, Sculpture + Drawings, 1978-2009, at the Chicago Cultural Center (2010).
A full-color, 48-page catalog, with essays by John Corbett and Jason Foumberg, accompanies the exhibition.