Anthea Hamilton

Leg Chair (Cigarettes)


Not on display

Anthea Hamilton born 1978
Acrylic, brass, plaster and wax
Object: 853 × 840 × 640 mm
Purchased 2019


Leg Chair (Cigarettes) 2014 is one of a series of ten acrylic chairs that Hamilton began in 2009, based on her own body. Each chair has a different theme including the actress Jane Birkin, sushi, and the 1985 film of E.M. Forster’s novel Room with a View (1908). Leg Chair (Cigarettes) is formed of a metal stand and seat that is flanked by a pair of black acrylic legs based on Hamilton’s own. They extend at an angle, the toes poised on the floor as if someone were sitting on the chair looking toward the viewer; the stand beneath takes the form of two oversized cigarettes. The sculpture recalls the infamous photograph of the model Christine Keeler, taken by Lewis Morley in 1963, in which she posed apparently nude sitting astride a plywood Arne Jacobsen chair, the back of which however obscured most of her torso.

Hamilton’s series of Leg Chairs can be said to relate to design history, not just the Jacobsen chair but also the work of the Italian designer Gaetano Pesce whose ‘Study for a door’ Hamilton remade for her Turner Prize exhibition at Tate Britain, London in 2016. The chairs also recall British pop artist Allen Jones’s (born 1937) sculptures of women taking the form of furniture (see, for example, Chair 1969, Tate T03244). However, in Hamilton’s chairs the body that appears in the artist’s own and, as a black woman, she has spoken of the importance of inserting the black female body into the museum and so into public view.

Hamilton is known for her often-humorous sculptures, installations and performances. Her works draw on themes as diverse as pop culture, 1970s disco music, food, lichen, Japanese Kabuki Theatre, architecture, fashion, design and art history. Much of her work focuses on the resolution of the contradictory dynamic between two and three dimensions, combining sculpture with poster and advertising-style images, as seen for example in Karl Lagerfeld Bean Counter 2012 (Tate T15255) and Wrestler Kimono 2013 (Tate T14114). They are often irreverent and surreal in their final realisation, but are precisely constructed, multi-layered objects that can be read and presented in many different contexts. She has described the process of developing her work, explaining that: ‘My work grew into these collages or assemblages … It was a way of storyboarding ideas, of constructing a narrative through images and materials. I draw from popular culture, art history and my personal life. You can have as much of it as you can manage.’ (Quoted in ‘Interview: Turner Prize Nominee Anthea Hamilton’ Financial Times, 11 November 2016,, accessed 30 November 2018.)

Further reading
Anthea Hamilton: Sorry I’m Late, exhibition catalogue, Firstsite, Colchester 2012.
‘Anthea Hamilton’, in Turner Prize 2016, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2016.

Linsey Young
October 2018

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

You might like