In Simmons's first photographs, made in the mid–1970s, female dolls in dollhouse interiors cook and clean, performing the typical chores of a housewife. Both the dolls and the stereotypes they embody evoke middle-class America in the 1950s. Like many of her contemporaries, Simmons has used the material of popular culture to probe and often debunk its social values. But the critical spirit of her photographs is colored with nostalgia. Later she recalled, "I was simply trying to recreate a feeling, a mood . . . a sense of the fifties that I knew was both beautiful and lethal at the same time."
Like the objects they represent, these early prints are quite small, but Simmons's work soon grew in scale. The pictures in her Walking Objects series of the late 1980s ironically endow commercial objects with human personalities by giving them legs and presenting them at a human scale — this print is almost seven feet tall. Isolated against a seamless backdrop under the dramatic artificial light of a stage or studio, the figures in these photographs are perfect and alluring. In Walking House, the sleek legs of a young starlet or model support a toy suburban house of the sort the young woman might have grown up in and in which—after marriage—she is destined to live.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 97.