We all know Lena Dunham as the body-positive, women empowering creator of HBO hit Girls, but did you know she basically grew up within the art world? Yep, that’s right, with two artist parents, Lena Dunham is arguably a work of art in herself. What’s more, she’s also a painter too, so sit tight while we break down her arty connections!
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Pops- you’ve been my number #1 since day one! And you put all the other boys to shame. This is you by my hospital bed….You’ve spent approximately two months of your life keeping me safe, entertained and connected…when I’ve been at my most vulnerable. And you make it seem easy. I could paint you with my eyes closed…but I’m keeping them open so I can look out for anyone or anything that would ever fuck with my top dude! Happy Father’s Day! And #happyfathersday to all the other legendary daddy-os out there! ????????????
Lena is the first child of painter Caroll Dunham and photographer Laurie Simmons, two huge art giants of the NYC art scene. As a woman in the art world, Lena’s mom Carrie really had to push to get her voice heard, so it’s no wonder that Lena went on to create Girls.
As the child of two well-known artists, Lena grew up around other artists. She met John Waters as a child at a private view, and her mom’s studio was in their house, meaning she was always surrounded by arty individuals, including Cindy Sherman and Marilyn Minter.
Lena’s mom Laurie Simmons has made two works of her daughter. In 2017 her mum photographed her nude – I mean, how many of us would be brave enough to let our parents photograph us naked – where she was covered in body paint as Audrey Hepburn. Additionally, when her mum – who is famous for depicting dolls – was commissioned to make a dollhouse for MoMA, she included a doll version of Lena too!
In an interview with the Talk Art podcast, Lena explained that her dad Carroll Dunham told her that art collecting is about having passion. Lena loves figurative paintings by women, and her collection includes works by Jenna Gribbon, Penelope Gazin and Natalia Fabia. Her first purchase was a work by Ellen Berkenblit, and we also know that her mom Laurie Simmons saves one of every photo she makes for Lena and her sibling, while her dad does the same with his prints.
Lena The Painter
Lena is not only the daughter of artists, she is an artist too. She is a painter herself, making images predominantly of women in watercolour, and has even had work on display at Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans.
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It’s a real toss up as to who loves @chelseahandler more, Ingrid the dog or me. I am so glad I got to paint her wise pretty LOL face the night before her book release. Today, her new memoir Life Will Be The Death of Me is available everywhere and imho it’s the most personal and honest thing she’s ever shared, and that’s really saying something. I’m proud of ya, mama ???? ????❤️
Her works often depict women she admires, from celebrities Kate Moss and Chelsea Handler, to female artists Helen Frankenthaler and Grace Hartigan.
The Arty Friends
Lena also has lots of friends within the arts. In fact, when she’s in Los Angeles, she lives with artist Paul Monroe, the brains behind the Greer Lankton Archives Museum.
She’s also pals with designer Christopher Kane, who exhibited her watercolours in his London store this past October.
Lena The Film Maker
And taking it right back to what we know Lena best for: being filmmaker. In case you didn’t know, the first film Lena ever made, Tiny Furniture, stars her mum and artist Laurie Simmons in her house. The film won the best narrative feature at the SXSW Film Festival, so it was clear she was a star right from the beginning of her career.
Text Lizzy Vartanian