In this photograph, Lorna Simpson uses sequential images to tell a story. The first shows, from behind, the upper torso of an ambiguously gendered Black subject. The second shows a glass held in the figure’s hands, and the third shows the glass shattered on the floor below, with the words “an agreement” in bright green. From its original form to its broken state, the glass can be understood to represent the contract of an agreement that has not been honored. Simpson’s use of photographs in conjunction with text explores the ways in which context can affect meaning as well as the role of photography in society.


  • Title: Holding and Breaking
  • Creator: Lorna Simpson
  • Creator Birth Place: Cozad, Nebraska
  • Date Created: 1992
  • Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Physical Dimensions: 74 × 20 3/8 inches (188 × 51.8 cm)
  • Type: Photograph
  • Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
  • Rights: © Lorna Simpson
  • Medium: Polaroid print
  • Art Form: Photography
  • Credit Line: Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Museum purchase. Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York.

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps