Laurie Simmons starred in a film called Tiny Furniture that was written and directed by her daughter Lena Dunham, who would later go on to a TV career of some note. In the film, Simmons played a character based heavily on herself, an artist photographing installations of domestic scenes rendered on a small scale with dollhouse furniture. Her daughter’s fame may have reflected some light on Simmons’ career (and inspired her own debut as a movie director), but she’s more than worthy of a major museum retrospective on her own merits, and so the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth launches its blockbuster show Laurie Simmons: Big Camera / Little Camera.
The show takes its title from a highly meta 1976 photo of Simmons’, where she placed a real-life camera next to a much-smaller replica of a camera made for one of her installations. The show contains pieces from Simmons’ renowned series, such as Walking & Lying Objects, whose photos used large objects rather than small ones as their subjects. Yet the exhibit also contains some of Simmons’ more recent works, like The Love Doll, placing lifelike Japanese sex dolls into mundane tableaux, and her 2015 series How We See, with painted eyes on the eyelids of models to comment on our social-media selves. This feminist who grew up in the 1950s and remembers the images of perfect domestic housewives has spent her life taking those images apart to see what makes them tick.
Laurie Simmons: Big Camera / Little Camera runs Sun thru Jan 27 at 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $10-16. Call 817-738-9215.