The global award in photography and sustainability

Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons was born in Long Island, New York (1949) and lives and works in New York City.

She moved to New York in 1973, where she encountered a wide range of approaches to photography. It was a territory open to exploration, particularly for women artists. In the 1970s Simmons was at the forefront of a new generation of artists pursuing the uncommon artistic tradition of staging fictional scenes to be photographed. Simmons’ work is characterised by her use of dolls and miniature objects. From 1975, Laurie began to photograph her dolls in evocative ‘noirish’ black-and-white scenarios. Whilst the resultant images were beautifully intricate alter-realities, the artist was amazed by their apparent realism. Simmons’ work examines issues of the domestic, dealing with the authoritarian structure of the nuclear family and the parochial idealism of suburbia. There was a critical move among Simmons to deconstruct and question the domestic and social formalism that symbolised 1950s suburban America and indeed Laurie’s own youth. It was a narrative visible in the work of other key artists of the time like Barbara Kruger, Richard Prince, Martha Rosler and Cindy Sherman. However, Laurie’s exploration of these subjects was totally unique. Her manipulation of miniaturised objects and interiors provided these domestic mise-en-scenes with a dream like quality, which isolated the images from the austere ‘pseudo-documentary’ aesthetic other artists were trying to achieve (Carol Squiers, 2003).

Important retrospective museum exhibitions include Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden (2012), The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland (1997) and San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California (1990). Her work can also be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum of Art, The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC; the Hara Museum in Tokyo; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, amongst others. Recent survey exhibitions include ‘Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography’, MOMA, New York (2011); ‘Off The Wall: Part 1 – 30 Performative Actions’, Whitney museum of American Art, New York (2010) and ‘The Pictures Generation, 1974 – 1984’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2009). She received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1984. Simmons was also the recipient of the 2005 ‘Roy Lichtenstein Residency in Visual Arts,’ at The American Academy in Rome.

Laurie Simmons