New York’s Jewish Museum on a Laurie Simmons Buying Spree Ahead of 2015 Show

Seven of her photographs have entered the collection in the last year.

Laurie Simmons, Blue Tiled Reception Area” (1983). Courtesy the Jewish Museum, New York.
simmons-Purple-Woman-Grey Chair Green-Rug

Laurie Simmons, Purple Woman/ Grey Chair/ Green Rug (1983).
Courtesy the artist, Salon 94, New York.

The Jewish Museum in New York added two cibachrome prints by photographer Laurie Simmons to its collection this month. They join a growing list of cibachrome and gelatin silver prints recently acquired by the museum, which is in the midst of a Simmons acquisition spree. The museum is planning to present a yet-to-be announced project by Simmons in March 2015. It will be her first solo show at a major New York art museum.

“We’ve had a long-standing interest in her with the museum,” said Kelly Taxter, assistant curator at the Jewish Museum, who will curate the 2015 project. The prints, “Purple Woman/ Grey Chair/ Green Rug” (1983) and “Blue Tiled Reception Area” (1983), are two of a total of seven works added to the institution’s permanent collection through donations and purchases in the last year. Paula Grief, an artist who works in ceramics, donated the two most recent additions, she said.

The museum’s other new Simmons photographs include: “Woman Listening to Radio” (1978), “Mother/Nursery” (1976), “Kitchen/Woman in Corner” (1976), “Purple Woman/ Kitchen” (1978), and“Purple Woman/ Grey Chair/ Green Rug/ Painting” (1978). The museum declined to give a values or prices for the works acquired, but Simmons cibachrome prints generally sell for $15,000-$20,000.


Laurie Simmons, Blue Tiled Reception Area (1983).
Courtesy the artist, Salon 94, New York.

Simmons has an exhibition currently on view at Salon 94, “Kigurumi Dollers and How We See,” which has been well-received. In “Kigurumi,” she used real models as her subjects, dressing them like dolls, and photographing them on dollhouse-like sets.

“What works about them for me is I’m taking traditional photographic approaches with these characters, but the characters themselves are hybrids,” Simmons told artnet News in an interview. “They exist in some interstitial space between doll and human, animate and inanimate. I always feel when the subject matter is really awkward, or strange, or gets to the place that I want it to be, that it works or is offset by treating it as directly and traditionally as possible, photographically speaking.”

Simmons has been working professionally as a photographer since graduating from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in 1971. Her work focuses on using figures, dolls, and ventriloquist dummies that are often placed in domestic situations. Simmons has gained mainstream exposure in recent years by appearing in her daughter Lena Dunham’s films and in the HBO series Girls.

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