Adrian Piper 

“It seemed that the more clearly and abstractly I learned to think, the more clearly I was able to hear my gut telling me what I needed to do, and the more pressing it became to do it.”

Adrian Piper

Adrian Piper is a first-generation Conceptual artist and analytic philosopher. Since the 1960s, her work across mediums has drawn from her personal and professional experiences to consider the nature of subjectivity, agency, and identity in metaphysical, social, and political contexts. Inspired by her friend Sol LeWitt, the artist developed a conceptual framework for drawings and geometric sculpture before turning to performance, exploring its potential to challenge our understanding of social structures, gender, and race. In the series Mythic Being (1973–75), for example, she publicly dons a mustache and Afro wig, adopting the signifiers of the stereotypical “young Black man.” Her work often directly addresses the viewer: in the performance and video Funk Lessons (1982–84), she teaches an audience of mostly white people how to dance to funk music. In Calling Card (1986–90), business cards confront the reader’s own biases; and in the video installation Cornered (1988), Piper calmy tells the viewer, “I’m Black… Now, let’s deal with this social fact, and the fact of my stating it, together.”

Born in 1948 in New York City, Piper graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1969. She received a BA in Philosophy from the City College of New York (1974) and a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard University (1981). In 1987 at Georgetown University, she became the first tenured African American woman professor in the field of philosophy. Piper’s artwork resides in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Generali Foundation, Vienna; and Tate, London, among many others. Her numerous honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1979, 1982), the Guggenheim Foundation (1989), and the Golden Lion Award at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). In 2018, her seventh traveling retrospective, Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions 1965–2016, was organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Since 2005, Piper has lived and worked in Berlin, where she runs the Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin (APRA).


    • Adrian Piper
    • Lévy Gorvy, New York
      September 14 - October 21, 2017
    • Adrian Piper (2017), Lévy Gorvy’s first solo exhibition with the acclaimed Conceptual artist and philosopher, was a focused presentation including examples from the Mythic Being series (1973–75), It’s Just Art (1980), and Here (an installation work conceived in 2008 and realized for the first time at the gallery). Together, these three bodies of work delve into interrelated themes Piper has explored throughout her career—the intersubjective formation of self, identity, race, and gender—as well as racism, sexism, xenophobia, and competing conceptions of political respon...

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Selected Artworks

    • Adrian Piper
    • Decide Who You Are #21: Phantom Limbs, 1992
    • Silkscreened image-text collage printed on paper mounted on foam; silkscreened texts
    • Adrian Piper
    • Race Traitor, 2018
    • Digital print
    • 36 × 24 inches (91.4 × 61 cm)
    • 1 of 7
    • Adrian Piper
    • Vanilla Nightmares # 11, 1986
    • Charcoal on New York Times page from Thursday, July 3, 1986
    • 23⅜ × 27⅜ inches (59.4 × 69.5 cm)
    • Adrian Piper
    • Mythic Being (Say it Like You Mean it, Babycakes), 1975
    • Oil crayon drawing on black and white photograph
    • 8 × 10 inches (20.3 × 25.4 cm)

Selected Press