October 3, 1949 |
Long Island, NY
|Field||artist and photographer|
|Training||Tyler School of Art|
|Awards||National Endowment for the Arts Grant, 1984.Guggenheim Fellowship, 1997. Roy Lichtenstein Residency in Visual Arts, The American Academy in Rome, 2005. Distinguished Alumni Award, Temple University, 2006.|
Personal life 
Laurie Simmons was born on Long Island, New York, in 1949, and was raised in a Jewish community. She received a BFA from Tyler School of Art in 1971. Simmons lives and works in New York City and Cornwall, Connecticut with her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham, and their two daughters, Lena and Grace.
Since the mid-1970s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls, ventriloquist dummies, objects on legs and occasionally people, to create photographs that reference domestic scenes.
Early Black and White 
Simmons’ first mature works, shot in 1976, were black-and-white images taken in a dollhouse, un-peopled variations on each room in the house, particularly the bathroom, using sunlight and different angles to create a “dazzling, dreamlike stage set.” She then added a housewife doll into a kitchen set and "photographed the figure over and over in various positions — standing and sitting at the table, at the counter, in a corner, standing on her head with the kitchen in disarray. The mood is dramatically different than in the bathroom views."
Black Series 
For the Black Series, Simmons constructed spare rooms with dollhouse furniture and replicas of iconic, easily recognizable artworks. Simmons considered the photographs of these interior spaces her strongest work at the time.
Early Color Interiors 
In 1978, Simmons began shooting the figures in the dollhouse in color, to create the "Early Color Interiors" series. At that time, color photography was "more commonly associated with the artifice of commercial photography while black-and-white was perceived to be more truthful. By using the techniques and processes identified with advertising, fashion, and film, Simmons linked her work to a realm of suspended belief--the realm of fantasy and fiction that sustained many of her memories and longings."
After much interest in her Early Color Interiors, Simmons began searching for new subject matter and decided to photograph a set of cowboy figures that belonged to Carroll Dunham. The cowboys were on horseback in an unrestrained outdoor environment, shot in a style reminiscent of television Westerns.
Water Ballet 
In 1979, Simmons began photographing dolls in a fish tank and eventually floating underwater in a full-sized pool. During this process, she turned her underwater camera to real people swimming. The result was "Water Ballet," a series that developed as Simmons choreographed underwater movements for her friends and photographed their interpretations.
Color Coordinated Interiors 
In the early 1980s, she created the series "Color-Coordinated Interiors", which used Japanese dolls called Teenettes, monochrome toys of women who Simmons photographed in front of rear projection images of interior decorated rooms. The dolls matched the color theme of the rooms.
The series that followed was "Tourism," in 1984, which also used the "Teenette" dolls, but showed them in groups visiting famous places around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids, the Parthenon, and the Taj Mahal. This series investigated the mediation of these places through photography and media instead of real experience. "She used the same strategy to shoot the "Tourism" series as she used for the "Color-Coordinated Interiors," populating unrealistically pristine postcard views with her dolls via rear projection. The figures are color-cued to the background scene, which was often unintentionally monochromatic due owing to the poor quality of the slide." The slides were collected by Simmons from tourist shops and museum collections.
Talking Objects 
Walking and Lying Objects 
Simmons began using objects on legs in her series "Walking & Lying Objects" from the late 1980s. The first work in this series is a work from 1987 titled "Walking Camera I (Jimmy the Camera)," of Simmons's friend and former roommate, the late artist Jimmy De Sana, wearing an old-fashioned box camera costume. The photographs that follow use miniatures and small doll legs. "As she animates the objects, Simmons plays out various roles," wrote curator Jan Howard in an essay accompanying Simmons' retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art. "Her transformed women parade across a simulated stage as if in a fashion show or a musical, wearing the accoutrements with which they are identified."
Clothes Make the Man 
This series of male dummy sculptures were made in collaboration with figure maker Alan Semok. The seven dummies were identical, differentiated only by their clothes and subtitles. Simmons stated that the series "...was just about these minute differences in the way we look or the way we act that make us feel like we’re so profoundly different."
Café of the Inner Mind 
Simmons later took a more critical look at the dummies, photographing them in environments and using collage to interject their thoughts or visualizations. Much like the ventriloquists she had seen as a child, Simmons gave the dummies a dialogue based on her own projections. According to Simmons, "the dummy is such a metaphor for lying and telling the truth. The way the ventriloquist is able to say whatever he or she wants to say, through this other character. You don’t have to take responsibility for anything that you’re saying because the dummy said it or the dummy did it. It made me think about a lot of things, from news-casting to public speakers to politicians to friends."
Kaleidoscope House 
In 2001, Simmons collaborated with architect Peter Wheelwright to design an interactive modernist dollhouse called the "Kaleidoscope House." The house was decorated with miniature artwork and furniture by contemporary artists and designers.
The Instant Decorator 
Also in 2001, Simmons began her "Instant Decorator" series, which was based on a 1976 interior decorating book of the same name, that provided templates of household rooms for the client to fill with swatches of fabric and paint samples. The series features works that are collage-like and opulently filled with accessories and characters in dramatic mises en scène.
The Love Doll 
In 2009, Simmons began a new series called "The Love Doll," featuring a lifesize doll from Japan. This series documents the ongoing days in the doll's life.
Simmons had her first solo show at Artists Space, a non-profit gallery in New York, in 1979, showing the "Early Color Interiors". Shortly after, she exhibited work at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. In 1980, Simmons began showing at Metro Pictures Gallery in New York. Simmons had a mid-career retrospective at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1997. The artist is currently represented by Salon 94.
In 2006, Simmons made her first film, The Music of Regret. The film is thought to be an extension of her photographs, bringing her objects to life by involving musicians, professional puppeteers, Alvin Ailey dancers, Hollywood cinematographer Ed Lachman, and actress Meryl Streep. This three act musical creates a narrative between iconic objects found in her photographs.
Simmons starred in a feature-length film by her daughter Lena Dunham, called Tiny Furniture, which was filmed in 2009 and was featured at the South by Southwest film festival in 2010. The film won various awards in 2010, including the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature, the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s New Generation Awards, and the Sarasota Film Festival’s Independent Visions Award. It was nominated for Gotham Awards for best Ensemble Performance, and Breakthrough Director.
Fashion Collaborations 
In 2008, Simmons collaborated with the designer Thakoon Panichgul to create fabrics for his Spring 2009 line. The pattern featured a variation on Simmons' series "Walking & Lying Objects" from the late eighties, which involved various objects that are animated with legs in different positions. The fabric for Thakoon's line was based on legs paired with a rose.
Simmons also collaborated with Peter Jensen (fashion designer) on his 2010 spring collection. Jensen photographed models in poses directed by Simmons based on images from fashion magazines in the 60's and 70's. The resulting photographs were then cut into paper dolls, dressed in a miniature version of Jensen’s spring collection, and placed inside Simmons’ typical dollhouse tableaus. The book of photographs was released for London Fashion Week 2009.
Popular Culture 
- Walking, Talking, Lying Aperture, 2005. ISBN 1-931788-59-6
- In and Around the House CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 1983. ISBN 09397840468
- LS Laurie Simmons PARCO CO., LTD. Tokyo, 1987. ISBN 4-89194-155-3
- Laurie Simmons, Water Ballet/Family Collision Walker Art Center, 1987. ISBN 0-935640-23-1
- Laurie Simmons, San Jose Museum of Art The San Jose Museum of Art, 1990. ISBN 0-938175-10-6
- Laurie Simmons A. R. T. Press, 1994. ISBN 0-923183-13-2
- The Music of Regret The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1997. ISBN 0-912298-69-3
- Photographs 1978/79 Skarstedt Fine Art, 2002. ISBN 0-9709090-3-9
- In and Around the House: Photographs 1976-78 Carolina Nitsch Editions, 2003. ISBN 0-9740666-0-5
- Color Coordinated Interiors 1983 Skarstedt Fine Art, 2007. ISBN 0-9709090-6-3
- Erna Hecey Gallery
- Linker, Kate. Reflections on a Mirror. Walking Talking Lying, Aperture, 2005, p. 9.
- Howard, Jan, "The Music of Regret," The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1997
- Tomkins, Calvin, Onward and Upward with the Arts, “A Doll’s House,” The New Yorker, December 10, 2012, p.34
- "Laurie Simmons." A. R. T. Press, 1994.
-  art21
- Yablonsky, Linda, “Better, More Surreal Homes and Collages ,” The New York Times, 15 February 2004, p. 18
- The Love Doll: Days 1-30, Salon 94
- "Conversation: Laurie Simmons and Marvin Heiferman", Art in America, April 2009, p. 110-121
- Darren Franich (10-18-2010). "The Gotham Awards nominate 'Winter's Bone,' 'The Kids Are All Right'". Entertainment Weekly.
- Tiny Furniture official website
- Lau, Venessa “Rose Land: A collaboration with artist Laurie Simmons blossoms at Thakoon,” W Magazine, November 2008
- PBS: http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/simmons/index.html
- Museum of Modern Art: http://moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE%3A7015&page_number=1&template_id=6&sort_order=1
- Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org/TOAH/hd/pcgn/ho_2004.246.htm
- The New York Times: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0CE1DD103AF937A15752C1A9669C8B63&scp=1&sq=laurie%20simmons&st=cse
- The New York Times: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504E7D7143DF934A35755C0A9649C8B63&scp=3&sq=laurie%20simmons&st=cse
- The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/20/arts/design/20wart.html?_r=1&scp=19&sq=laurie%20simmons&st=cse&oref=slogin
- Laurie Simmons: Color Coordinated Interiors 1983 New York: Skarstedt Gallery, 2007.
- Linkler, Kate. “Laurie Simmons: Walking, Talking, Lying,” Aperture Foundation, 2005
- Laurie Simmons' official website
- Interview with Laurie Simmons
- Art Forum Laurie Simmons Scale Models
- Art In America Conversation Marvin Heiferman and Laurie Simmons
- New York Magazine Laurie Simmons Love Doll: Days 1-30