IN AND AROUND THE HOUSE
The complete early black and white photographs, 1976-78
May 17 – June 28, 2008
Opening: Friday May 16, 5-7pm
Carolina Nitsch is pleased to present IN AND AROUND THE HOUSE, the first
comprehensive survey of Laurie Simmons’ early black and white photographs from
1976-78 at her Project Room in Chelsea, New York.
This seminal body of work put Simmons at the forefront of a new generation of artists,
predominantly women, whose photographic works began a new dialogue in
The use of set-up photography combined with the notion of child play – the images
were shot in the rooms and before the facades of disassembled dollhouses – enabled
Simmons to control perception and make reference to both general stereotypes and
her own personal memories. As she arranged and rearranged the small vignettes,
consisting of female dolls, dollhouse furnishings, miniature props and postcards, she
was in her own words “… looking for the way your memory white-washes the image
when you think about something from the past - making it far more perfect”.
Simmons, while sharing strategies with the artists known as the Pictures Generation –
Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler and Sarah Charlesworth – and their
documentation and appropriation of cultural memory, forged her own identity more
closely aligned with surrealism and artists such as Man Ray, Rodchenko, Bellmer and
Gordon Matta Clark’s mysterious black and white photograph collages that
documented his 1970’s “building cuts”.
Simmons’ use and manipulation of dolls and interiors, marked by intentional
dislocations and unexpected conjunctions, created a nonlinear narrative and abstract
pictorial plane that echoes the skewed images of personal memory and dreams. Her
subjects, which swell with a faux-tone of a simple, safe and secure home life, feel as
relevant today as when Simmons first shot them.
Laurie Simmons has exhibited widely in the United States and Europe. She has had
more than a dozen solo exhibitions in New York City. Her work is in the permanent
collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon
R.Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the
Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the
Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC; the Hara Museum in Tokyo; and the Stedelijk
Museum of Modern Art in Amsterdam, among others. In 1997, the Baltimore Museum
of Art organized a twenty-year retrospective of her work. Simmons’ work was
prominently featured in MOMA’s Open Ends exhibition and in the Whitney Museum’s
American Century in 2000.
Simmons graduated in 1971 with a BFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She
has been a visiting critic in both Columbia and Yale University’s graduate photography
departments. She received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1984, a
Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1997 and the Roy Lichtenstein Residency in
Visual Arts at the American Academy in Rome in 2005. Her film The Music of Regret
premiered at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 2006 and has been screened at
the Tate Modern, the Centre Pompidou, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the
Hammer Museum, The Walker Art Centre, the Centro Reina Sofia and elsewhere.
Simmons was a featured artist in the PBS TV Series Art: 21-Art in the 21st century in
2007. She is represented by Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York. Simmons lives
and works in New York City with her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham, and their two
A fully illustrated catalogue raisonné of the early black and white work is available for
this exhibition, with 62 duotone reproductions, of which 54 are full page. The book also
features a critical essay by Carol Squiers, a leading voice on photography and a curator
at the International Center of Photography in New York, as well as an autobiographical
account by Laurie Simmons.
Laurie Simmons, IN AND AROUND THE HOUSE, hardcover, clothbound, 96 pages,
9 ¾ x 11 ½ “/ 24.5 x 29 cm, ISBN 0-9740666-0-5, $ 39.99. Distributed to the book
trade by D.A.P. (USA) and Hatje/Cantz (Europe). Published by Carolina Nitsch Editions.