Laurie Simmons’ Some New: Portraits With Painted Clothes

Laurie Simmons portraits with body paint are part of the artist/photographer’s third solo exhibition at New York’s Salon 94 Bowery. The show, 2017:The Mess and Some New, features two components: The Mess and Some New. In this post I’m sharing with you the work from the latter – highly pigmented portraits of her children and others embellished with painted on jewelry and clothing.

Laurie Simmons Portraits With Body Paint

If you didn’t know, Laurie Simmons is married to artist Carroll Dunham, is the mother to actress, writer, producer, and director Lena Dunham as well as to transgender and advocate, actress, soon-to-be-published author Grace Dunham, 26. Talk about a talented and creative family!

Some New: Lena (Pink), 2018
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)
Laurie Simmons portraits with body paint
detail:

Some New: Grace (Orange), 2018
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

“She has depicted many of her subjects, including her daughters, in body-painted suits that simulate clothing yet leave the wearers poignantly exposed. “I have to bring in artifice or desecrate the idea to make it possible for me to go there,” she said. “If it’s 100 percent real, it doesn’t get to me.” – NY Times

Some New: Hayden Dunham (White), 2018
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

Some New: Hannah (Aqua), 2018
(Hanna is a good friend of Grace Dunham who went through a male-to-female transition.)
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

Some New: Shirin (Yellow), 2018
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

Some New: Andrianna (Red), 2018
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

Some New: Hayden Dunham (Blue), 2018
(This piece is not in the exhibit)
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

Some New: Payton for Harper’s Bazaar (Pink), 2018
(This particular piece was commissioned by Harper’s Bazaar Magazine for their upcoming June/July fashion editorial.)
Pigment print, 70 × 48 inches (178 × 122 cm)

detail:

About the Exhibit (courtesy of Salon 94 Bowery):

installation view

In Laurie Simmons’ third solo exhibition at Salon 94 titled 2017: The Mess and Some New, plastic takes center stage, becoming the subject of a new monumental photograph—a portrait or momento mori of our times. Throughout her nearly forty-year career, Simmons’ subjects have often been constructed from plastic. She has placed inanimate dolls, ventriloquist dummies, and household objects and furnishings in intricately staged sets with theatrical lighting with the reverence typically reserved for precious materials or human subjects.

Recently, Simmons has placed herself in the position of a portrait photographer, using a camera on a tripod to shoot seated subjects. The works included in Some New are a natural continuation of Simmons series How We See (2014-15), which portrayed fashion models with hand-painted eyes covering their closed lids. In her new portraits, Simmons chose to shoot friends and family in a state of change or renewal. A personal counterpoint to 2017: The Mess, the artist plays with the constructs of portraiture by substituting one aspect of the sitter’s identity with a painted replacement. In Some New: Hannah (Aqua), jeans and a t-shirt have been painted with a tromp l’oeil effect. In Some New: Shirin (Yellow) and Some New: Andrianna (Red), precious jeweled necklaces are painted directly on their chests. In Some New: Lena (Pink) and Some New: Grace (Orange), the subjects picked their own painted identities: Audrey Hepburn and Rudolph Valentino. Some New is Simmons first real engagement with portraiture, in which she allows human subjects to enter her carefully crafted world of plastic interaction.

About The Artist:

Laurie Simmons at her home studio, in Cornwall, Conn. Photo: Caroline Tompkins for NYTimes

Born in 1949 on Long Island, New York, Laurie Simmons received a BFA from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia in 1971. A major solo retrospective titled Big Camera/Little Camera is forthcoming at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, where it is curated by Andrea Karnes, senior curator and will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, curated by Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives. A major scholarly catalogue, co-published by the Modern in Fort Worth and DelMonico Books·Prestel, will accompany the exhibition. She has held major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Neues Museum, Nuremberg Germany, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sweden; and the Jewish Museum, New York. She has participated in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions (1985, 1991) and was included in the 2013 Venice Biennial. Simmons is the recipient of the Roy Lichtenstein Residency in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Rome (2005); and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1997) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1984). She lives and works in New York and Kent, Connecticut.

See and learn more about the exhibit here and here


Laurie Simmons
2017: The Mess and Some New
April 27, 2018–June 02, 2018
Salon 94 Bowery

images courtesy of the artist

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