Sanford Biggers

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Sanford Biggers
Born 1970 (age 46–47)
United States
Nationality American
Known for Film, video, sculpture, music

Sanford Biggers (born 1970) is a Harlem-based interdisciplinary artist who works in film/video, installation, sculpture, music, and performance.[1] An L.A. native, he has lived and worked in New York City since 1999.[2]


Biggers received a BA from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1998.[3] Biggers says that due to a lack of art major classes at Morehouse, he was required to take the majority of his classes at the all-girls Spelman College.[4]


Biggers first received critical attention when his collaborative work with David Ellis, Mandala of the B-Bodhisattva II, was included in the exhibition "Freestyle", curated by Thelma Golden at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2001.[5][6][7] Since, his works have been presented internationally including the Tate Modern in London, the Renaissance Society in Chicago,[8] Prospect 1 in New Orleans and the Whitney Biennial, the Kitchen and Performa 07 (curated by Roselee Goldberg) in New York.[1][7][9] Biggers's art frequently references African-American ethnography, hip hop music, Buddhism, African spirituality, Indo-European Vodoun, jazz, Afrofuturism, urban culture and icons from Americana.[10][11][12][13] He claims to place "no hierarchy on chronology, references or media"[14] and his work has been characterized by meditation and improvisation.[13] He says his themes are "meant to broaden and complicate our read on American history." He also uses syncretism to highlight the interconnectedness of seemly disparate cultural practices.[10][11] In order to make the viewer an active element, Biggers often turns his sculptures into performances.[14] Having spent most of his life playing piano, this performative element frequently takes the form of music.[12] He has collaborated on music projects with Saul Williams a.k.a. Niggy Tardust, Esthero, Martin Luther McCoy, Imani Uzuri, Rich Medina[14] and Jahi Sundance.[12]

In 2014, Biggers departed from his typical medium by painting on quilts that were given to him by the descendants of slave owners.[15]

Biggers is Affiliate Faculty at the Virginia Commonwealth University Sculpture and Expanded Media program and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s VES Department in 2009.[16][17] He is Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Visual Arts program.[18]


Biggers was an Eyebeam artist-in-residence in 2000.[19][20]

Biggers in 2008 received the Creative Capital Award in the discipline of Visual Arts.[21] In 2009 he received the William H. Johnson Prize[22] and was one of the three finalists for the inaugural Jack Wolgin International Competition in the Fine Arts, the largest juried prize in the world to go to an individual visual artist. In 2010, Biggers was awarded the Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, a two-year residency and commission of new work.[23] The commission formed the centerpiece of Sanford Biggers: Codex, a 2012 solo exhibition at the Ringling Museum[24] curated by Matthew McLendon.


  1. ^ a b Modern Exhibitions Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Schachter Rove, Kenny. "Sanford Biggers/Notions". Retrieved 2010-07-12. 
  3. ^ "RVA Volume 4 Issue 9 - Grand Illusions - page 15". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  4. ^ Biggers, Sanford; Keith, Amy Elisa (2014-02-20). "On the Record With ... Sanford Biggers". Retrieved 2015-11-11. 
  5. ^ Lesage, Dieter & Wudtke, Ina. “Black Sound White Cube.” Löcker Verlag (June 11, 2010).
  6. ^ Bleckner, Ross. "BOMB Magazine: Rashid Johnson by Sanford Biggers". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  7. ^ a b Yablonsky, Linda. "ARTnews". ARTnews. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  8. ^ Sanford Biggers at the Renaissance Society
  9. ^ "/ archive". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  10. ^ a b "BAM/PFA - Art Exhibitions - Sanford Biggers / MATRIX 197". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  11. ^ a b Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. "• Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum || EXHIBITIONS •". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  12. ^ a b c "WM | whitehot magazine of contemporary art | April 2010, Interview with Sanford Biggers". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  13. ^ a b "Bachelors Degree Program". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  14. ^ a b c "Sanford Biggers - Time Out New York". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  15. ^ Gilmore, Georgette (2104-11-14). "MAM Art Talks Thursday : Sanford Biggers - Baristanet". Baristanet. Retrieved 2015-11-11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ "Sanford Biggers Public Art at Harvard". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  17. ^ "VCU Sculpture + Extended Media". Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  18. ^ "Visual Arts Faculty - Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate MFA Programs". Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  19. ^ "Sanford Biggers |". Retrieved 2016-01-28. 
  20. ^ "iniva: Sanford Biggers". Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  21. ^ (
  22. ^ "Sanford Biggers Wins 2009 William H. Johnson Prize". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  23. ^ "Greenfield Winners". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 
  24. ^ "Sanford Biggers: Codex". Retrieved 2016-04-05. 

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