Laurie Simmons rose to prominence with the Pictures generation, a loose affiliation of artists (including Cindy Sherman, on view nearby) who, from the late 1970s, planted their creative flags in the parallel reality conjured by the advertising industry and mass media, drawing upon their visual idioms and presentational modes. Simmons’s most recognizable work places plastic figurines—predominantly of women—into situations that combine the subject matter of Better Homes and Gardens with the existential dread of Alfred Hitchcock, disclosing the cold comfort offered by material prosperity for the stultification of a homemaker’s life.
In the photograph seen here, a man and woman lean into an embrace, while behind them, a table has been laid in preparation for a meal. An oversized picnic basket in the lower left corner reminds of the unseen, yet undoubtedly herculean, domestic labor underpinning this scene of leisure. Unusual for Simmons’s oeuvre, its handmade set has been contributed by her husband, the painter Carroll Dunham.