Intersections – Sanford Biggers: Mosaic, 100th anniversary, The Phillips Collection, curated by Vesela Sretetenovic, Washington, DC.

Sanford Biggers’s Intersections project presents a visual and conceptual interplay—a mosaic—of distinct histories, cultural narratives, and art styles. Drawing from works in the Phillips’s permanent collection, including the Gee’s Bend quilts that were recently acquired and a number of European modernist sculptures, Biggers produced a new body of work—Mosaic, a three-dimensional quilt; Fool’s Folly, a floor piece made with sand; and The Cantor, a marble sculpture—that bridges past art traditions with current multimedia practices.

Intrigued by the heritage and cryptic symbolism of the Gee’s Bend quilts from the insulated African American community in Alabama, as well as with their shapes, colors, and rhythm, Biggers started working with repurposed antique quilts in 2009. For the Phillips, he created a sculptural piece that integrates old textiles, patterns from the Phillips’s quilts (created by Mary Lee Bendolph, Aolar Mosley, Arlonzia Pettway, and Malissia Pettway), and the folded forms of Japanese origami, a craft he learned while residing in Japan. He also designed a site-specific floor installation—essentially a sand-quilt—with an abstract composition combining geometric forms with organic shapes suggestive of mandalas and emphasizing the notion of temporality.

Additionally, Biggers riffed on the sculptural works from the collection—by Alexander Archipenko, Alberto Giacometti, Simone Leigh, Markus Lüpertz, and Pablo Picasso—and created a hybridized figure in marble that merges the formal aspects of Western art canon with the expressive iconography of African art, bringing another layer of cultural and aesthetic intersectionality.
Sanford Biggers: Mosaic featured on PBS’ Newshour