Rihanna and Lorna Simpson collaborate for the new Essence cover

The visual artist and the recording artist have produced a series of images exploring contemporary beauty
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Rihnna by Lorna Simpsn by Lorna Simpson “Of Earth & Sky, 2020” Photographic Collage, Dimensions Variable © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth. Creative Direction and Fashion Styling, Jahleel Weaver. Hair Yusef/the Y by Yusef/factory Downtown. Makeup: Raisa Flowers Using Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. Manicure: Maria Salandra/dior Vernis/art department. Tailor, Grace Ryung Kim. On Rihanna, a diamond necklace from Michelle Ong from Siegelson and drop earrings from Thelma West.
Rihnna by Lorna Simpsn by Lorna Simpson “Of Earth & Sky, 2020” Photographic Collage, Dimensions Variable © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth. Creative Direction and Fashion Styling, Jahleel Weaver. Hair Yusef/the Y by Yusef/factory Downtown. Makeup: Raisa Flowers Using Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin. Manicure: Maria Salandra/dior Vernis/art department. Tailor, Grace Ryung Kim. On Rihanna, a diamond necklace from Michelle Ong from Siegelson and drop earrings from Thelma West.

Lorna Simpson is one artist who is quite used to working on the printed page. “Addressing the experience of African-American people and black women in particular, her collages use images from vintage magazines such as Ebony and Jet  to consider issues of representation, identity and difference,” explains our book Great Women Artists.

Simpson is also quite familiar with representations of contemporary beauty; “her recent series ‘Earth & Sky’ shows glamorous women with gemstones collaged in place of their hair,” the book goes on to say.

 

Bivalve Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, Dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Dress and shoes: Maison Margiela Artisanal. RING Camilla Diets Bergeron. Earrings Thelma West, Lang Antiques and Colette (cuff)
Bivalve Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, Dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Dress and shoes: Maison Margiela Artisanal. RING Camilla Diets Bergeron. Earrings Thelma West, Lang Antiques and Colette (cuff)


Now, for the January/ February edition of Essence magazine, Simpson has teamed up with one notable, contemporary beauty: the Grammy Award–winning recording artist, songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, Rihanna.

 

Nebula Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Bra, Savage x Fenty. Top Harris Reed. Jacket Hood by Air
Nebula Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Bra, Savage x Fenty. Top Harris Reed. Jacket Hood by Air


Simpson has worked with Rihanna to create a 12-page portfolio of images, continuing her earlier, glamorous series. Entitled Of Earth and Sky, the photographic images make reference to earlier beauty tropes, such as Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, while remaining thoroughly on the zeitgeist.

 

Moving Planets Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic Collage, Dimensions Variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth. Coat, jacket and shorts Rick Owens. Leggings Savage X Fenty. Shoes Givenchy. Choker Belperron. Rings Belperron and Messika. Earrings Chrome Hearts, Thelma West (Drops), Messika and Melissa Kaye (Cuff Stud). Anklet Rihanna’s own.
Moving Planets Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic Collage, Dimensions Variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the Artist and Hauser & Wirth. Coat, jacket and shorts Rick Owens. Leggings Savage X Fenty. Shoes Givenchy. Choker Belperron. Rings Belperron and Messika. Earrings Chrome Hearts, Thelma West (Drops), Messika and Melissa Kaye (Cuff Stud). Anklet Rihanna’s own.


Rihanna herself is certainly pleased with the work. “Lorna is a legend,” she told the magazine. “Honestly, I just didn’t think I could get her, but I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself. It’s a natural trifecta. It’s like magic.” 

 

Blue Cumulus Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, Dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Bra Savage x Fenty. Top Harris Reed. Jacket Hood by Air.
Blue Cumulus Rihanna by Lorna Simpson, Of Earth & Sky, 2020. Photographic collage, Dimensions variable © Lorna Simpson Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Bra Savage x Fenty. Top Harris Reed. Jacket Hood by Air.


That feeling is certainly mutual. “[Collaborating] with Rihanna and Essence magazine is quite incredible,” Simpson said. “As an artist, I’m able to deliver these unusual images of someone who is so well-known and so recognisable. It’s an amazing opportunity.”

 

Great Women Artists


To find out more about Simpon’s life and work, get a copy of Great Women Artists. For more beautiful images from Rihanna, take a look at our exquisite visual biography, now available in a new, limited edition Queen Size format.

 

Rihanna: Queen Size, our new limited edition Rihanna book
 


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