Coral Living Room

Laurie Simmons American

Not on view

Shortly after graduating from art school in the early 1970s, Simmons was living on a commune in the Catskills and painting houses for extra money. It was in the attic of a toy store in Liberty, New York, in 1972 that she discovered a vintage dollhouse of the kind that she had played with while growing up in the Ozzie-and-Harriet world of the 1950s. During the heyday of the feminist movement, such toys for girls were viewed suspiciously as agents of persuasive indoctrination. Simmons nevertheless understood their more complex allure. Located at the intersection between personal and collective memory, these dollhouses represented for an entire generation a set of untenable illusions that while fading, nonetheless stubbornly clung to the unconscious.
Coral Living Room was made as part of the Color-Coordinated Interiors series, in which the artist used surreally elongated, monochromatic dolls from Japan called "Teenettes" that represented the Japanese vision of American femininity. Simmons posed the figurines in front of projected images from decorating books of the 1960s and 1970s-a trenchant comment on what she saw as "women actually becoming or fading into their environment."

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