Lena Dunham Doesn’t Think Anyone Would Want to Come to Her Gallery Show

She will leave artmaking to her parents.

Artist Laurie Simmons and her daughter, actress Lena Dunham, at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
Artist Laurie Simmons and her daughter, actress Lena Dunham, at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. Courtesy of Jason Merritt/Getty Images.

Multi-hyphenate actress, writer, and director Lena Dunham may be the child of two visual artists—painter Carroll Dunham and photographer Laurie Simmons—but that doesn’t mean the creator of HBO’s Girls is confident in her ability to mimic their success in that arena.

“I don’t think anyone would want to come to my gallery show,” she told the Hollywood Reporter of her hypothetical art debut, which she imagined would likely be drawn from her Instagram feed. “I grew up seeing my parents hang those shows and I understand the precision it takes.”

“I’m so in awe of what visual artists do and I do understand the differences of what visual artists do,” she added, noting that she does plan to expand her small art collection. “But directing is about as visual as I get and I will leave artmaking to the rest of the family.”

But while Dunham may not be crossing over from film to art any time soon, Simmons is taking a page out of her daughter’s playbook, directing and starring in My Art, her second feature film, which debuts at the Venice Film Festival on September 6.

A still featuring Laurie Simmons and Lena Dunham from Dunham's <em>Tiny Furniture</em>. Courtesy of IFC Films.

A still featuring Laurie Simmons and Lena Dunham from Dunham’s Tiny Furniture. Courtesy of IFC Films.

In Dunham’s 2010 film Tiny Furniture, about the uncertainty of life after college, Simmons played her mother, a photographer. “It made me think of the portrayal of women my age on film and women artists on film and it set me off on a yearslong meditation,” sad Simmons of the experience of working on that film.

In My Art, Simmons plays Ellie, a struggling artist and professor who rediscovers her creative impulses. Dunham appears in an early scene, shot at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, playing a student of Ellie’s who, in an epic humble brag, can’t stop talking about how her success as an artist is taking over her personal life. (There, Carroll Dunham also makes a cameo, alongside some of his work in the museum collection.)

Director and screenwriter Laurie Simmons attends a photocall for <em>My Art</em> during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at on September 6, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Courtesy of Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Director and screenwriter Laurie Simmons attends a photocall for My Art during the 73rd Venice Film Festival at on September 6, 2016 in Venice, Italy. Courtesy of Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

“One of the reasons I’m so proud of my mother is she took her skills of over a 40-year photographic career and translated that to a film,” said Dunham. “I hope this movie feels emotionally and generationally important to women who feel they’ve been denied their creativity or sexuality or importance in any way because they’re not 30 anymore.”


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