Simone Leigh: Brick House ~ the Inaugural Installation on the High Line Plinth




As the High Line extends north, the new extended section known as the High Line Plinth will unveil its inaugural installation when it opens in June, 2019.  And since June is right around the corner, we spied a work-in-progress, the inaugural installation ~ Simone Leigh’s Brick House, seen from 10th Avenue at 30th Street.

The 16-foot tall bronze bust of a Black woman, has a skirt resembling a clay house. The sculpture is infused with the architectural concepts and processes taken from West Africa as well as the American South: the Batammaliba architecture from Benin and Togo, the Mousgoum people of Chad and Cameroon, and the restaurant Mammy’s Cupboard, in Natchez, Mississippi. Leigh designed and constructed this massive work through a complicated and fascinating multi-step process that pays homage to these “architectures of anatomy”.

Simone Leigh with a wax mold of a braid for Brick House at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia. Image: Constance Mensh

The work’s hanging braids were inspired by Thelma, the daughter on the 1970s television show Good Times.

Simone Leigh, Brick House, 2019. A High Line Plinth commission. On view June 2019 – September 2020. Photo by Timothy Schenck. Courtesy the High Line

“In New York City, there are a small handful of monuments depicting important African American figures in US history, including Frederick Douglass in Central Park, Louis Armstrong in North Corona, and Jackie Robinson in Upper Manhattan. Among them, only one is of an African American woman—Harriet Tubman in Harlem.”

Bronze pouring into the molds at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia.  Image: Timothy Schenck

“This paucity reflects the general lack of representation of Black women, real or imaginary, in public sculpture in this city and elsewhere. This underrepresentation is compounded by the small number of permanent, public sculptures, (just four) figurative or abstract, created by Black women artists permanently on public view in New York.”

The High Line Plinth will be a new destination for public art when it opens in June, 2019. It is designed as the focal point of The Spur, the newest section of the High Line, which will act as a natural gathering space with The Plinth serving as an anchor at the center of this piazza. It is inspired by the Fourth Plinth of Trafalgar Square in London, the large scale and high visibility of The Plinth offers artists a unique platform to inspire a diverse public audience.

The inaugural High Line Plinth was initiated by an international advisory committee of 13 artists, curators, and art world professionals who each submitted recommendations of artists to invite to submit a proposal for the Plinth.  Twelve proposals were then selected from the initial group of fifty. Simone Leigh’s Brick House, known as Cupboard VIIin the proposal stage, was ultimately chosen as the inaugural High Line Plinth Commission. Brick House  will be unveiled at the opening of The Spur in June 5, 2019 and will remain on view through September 2020 ~ located on The High Line at 30th Street.

While you wait for the opening of The Plinth, Simone Leigh: Loophole of Retreat at The Guggenheim to October 27, 2019.

Exciting news ~ Simone Leigh will represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, which will run from April 23 to November 27, 2022. It will be her biggest show. Follow Simone Leigh on Instagram.

While you’re there, check out The Shed, The Vessel and The Edge.

Did you know that the largest Green Roof in New York City is right next door at the Javits Center? and you can take a tour ~ for free.


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