2018-2019 Exhibition Schedule
PLEASE NOTE: The Modern will continue to be free every Friday and half-price every Sunday.
October 14, 2018 – January 27, 2019
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents a major survey of works by Laurie Simmons (American, born 1949), organized by Andrea Karnes, senior curator, with full support of the artist. This exhibition showcases Simmons’s photographs spanning the last four decades, from 1976 to the present, a small selection of sculpture, and two films.
As someone from the generation raised on television and advertising, and as a woman who matured as an artist in New York in the 1980s amidst a thriving urban backdrop, Laurie Simmons absorbed the idea that identity in America is multifaceted yet homogenized through a blitz of cultural signs. From the beginning, Simmons has used photography in a conceptual mode to investigate manufactured gender constructs and stereotypes and how they impact us all. In her early iconic photographs, she staged miniature domestic scenes featuring female dolls in doll houses in a process similar to that of the ad agencies on Madison Avenue that invented romanticized versions of women and men; however, Simmons showed the flip side of the American dream. She has since created 36 photographic series using combinations of plastic props, actual objects, dolls, doll houses, and people posed to look like dolls, largely to portray the role-playing of real women and men. Examining key works over the course of her career elucidates how photography became the ideal framework for her observations of archetypal Western gender roles — a topic as potent today as it was when she first began making art.
“Simmons’s imagery takes into account her own experience of coming of age in the 1950s,” says Andrea Karnes. “Without being autobiographical or spelling out specific narratives, however, the work strikes a psychological chord, seeming to underscore the difficulties of living the American dream, or in a larger context, any dream of domestic bliss.”
Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera is organized by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and travels to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2019.
Lectures in conjunction with Laurie Simmons: Big Camera/Little Camera:
Andrea Karnes in conversation with Laurie Simmons
October 9, 7 pm
Artist Laurie Simmons discusses the making of the Modern’s major survey Big Camera/Little Camera with the exhibition’s curator, Modern Senior Curator Andrea Karnes. This special presentation offers insight into Simmons’s work featured in the exhibition, her career, and the processes and premise of Big Camera/Little Camera as a collaborative effort between artist and curator.
Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham
November 13, 7 pm
Artist Laurie Simmons is in conversation with her husband, artist Carroll Dunham, for an extraordinary presentation in which the two renowned artists discuss the role art plays in their life together and how their life together informs their art, all in conjunction with the Modern’s survey of Simmons’s art, Big Camera/Little Camera.
FOCUS: Njideka Akunyili Crosby I Counterparts
December 1, 2018 – January 13, 2019
Los Angeles-based artist and 2017 MacArthur Genius Fellow Njideka Akunyili Crosby draws upon her experience of moving from Nigeria to the United States while maintaining ties to her family in Africa and building relationships in America. Layers of paint, fabric, and photographic transfers not only energize the interiors and figures depicted in the artist’s works but serve as a metaphor for the complex merging of cultural backgrounds that contribute to Akunyili Crosby’s sense of self.
Akunyili Crosby’s works incorporate signs of both Nigeria and the United States through the images of hairstyles, fashions, architecture, and furnishings taken from Nigerian magazines and commemorative fabric printed with portraits, giving her paintings a global context. For her FOCUS exhibition, the artist has created a series of visually and conceptually mirrored pairs of paintings. One juxtaposes a Nigerian interior with Akunyili Crosby’s Los Angeles home. In another, a Nigerian table setting is matched with an American example. The Nigerian image is centered around the trappings of afternoon tea, a custom brought to the country by its British colonizers that continues to incorporate European food products. The composition also includes a colorful plastic African “Clonette” or “DeiDei” doll of a Caucasian girl in Western dress and a Kris Okotie album cover inspired by Michael Jackson, both symbols of a popular culture shared internationally. The American counterpart to this still life offers a more troubling take on the interface of cultures. Embedded in the accoutrements of a Thanksgiving feast is a “blackamoor” serving dish, a disturbing decoration that trivializes the terrible history of African slavery in America. The exhibition’s two largest works isolate contemplative figures in architectural contexts that are alternately informed by Nigerian and American homes. In these detailed images, Akunyili Crosby augments paint with Nigerian portrait fabrics produced for ceremonies such as weddings, burials, and political campaigns. (The artist’s mother was a respected politician.) She also applies photographic transfers from Nigerian fashion and society publications that connect traditional Nigerian styles, fabrics manufactured in the Netherlands, and Western trends.
The exhibition is organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art.
FOCUS: Dirk Braeckman
January 26 – March 17, 2019
The photographs of Ghent-based Dirk Braeckman (b. 1958, Eeklo, Belgium) have a distinct stillness and quietude that counter the whirl of today’s visual landscape. Images of empty, unidentifiable interiors, architectural details, oceans, and partially obscured nude figures are just some examples of the artist’s subject matter. Braeckman’s deeply gray photographs are often abstracted, contributing to the mystery and intrigue of what his images convey while adding a sense of distance to the intimate interiors and views he depicts. Rather than setting up scenes or shots, Braeckman travels with a camera and captures what he sees, including hotel rooms, museums, and vacant corridors; his approach is partly diaristic, yet because the locales are anonymous and the photographs’ titles are unclear codes, Braeckman’s work is relatable and open-ended, eschewing photography’s documentary impulse. This fluidity is intentional and meant to engage, as the artist states: “I’m not a storyteller, I’m an imagemaker. The story is made in the mind of the viewer.”
Since the mid-1980s, Braeckman has tested the limits of photography, especially its materials and processes. Challenging the reproducibility of a photographic image, particularly in light of today’s vast dissemination of images, Braeckman creates unique prints using analogue processes and physically taxing experimental methods in the darkroom. The individuality of his images and the physical nature of his processes are evocative of painting, as is the rich tactility his unglazed photographs embody.