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Catherine Opie

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Catherine Opie, All-American Subversive The New Yorker

February 28 2017

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Catherine Opie on the Louis XIV Bedroom Met Museum Artist Project

June 8 2016

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L.A. HABITAT: CATHERINE OPIE ARTnews

March 4 2016

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Photographer Spotlight: Catherine Opie LA Review of Books

February 24 2016

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Catherine Opie in Conversation With Rodarte New York Times

February 16 2016

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Photos of Elizabeth Taylor’s Home Capture Its Beauty and Banality Hyperallergic

February 11 2016

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Catherine Opie's 700 Nimes Road review – LA's triple-threat shines like a diamond The Guardian

February 9 2016

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'I Do Like To Stare': Catherine Opie On Her Portraits Of Modern America NPR

February 5 2016

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Critics' Pick: Catherine Opie Artforum

January 29 2016

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David Ebony's Top 10 New York Gallery Shows This Winter Artnet

January 29 2016

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Catherine Opie, 'Portraits and Landscapes' Time Out New York

January 21 2016

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High-camp: a pair of Catherine Opie solo shows at Lehmann Maupin, NY Wallpaper Magazine

January 18 2016

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Photographer Catherine Opie Has a Pair of New Exhibitions That “Humanize Celebrity” Bedford + Bowery

January 18 2016

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Book Signing with Catherine Opie

January 16 2016

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Photographer Catherine Opie's Time is Now Wall Street Journal

January 11 2016

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Catherine Opie's New Exhibit Lets NYC Inside Elizabeth Taylor's Bedroom Gotham Magazine

January 11 2016

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12 Things to Do in New York's Art World Before January 15 New York Oberserver

January 11 2016

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This Week’s Must See Events: Bad Assery Abounds Art F City

January 11 2016

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Art & the City: 5 Hong Kong art exhibitions you can’t miss this month Lifestyle Asia

January 11 2016

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Q&A: Catherine Opie on her Diverse Body of Work ARTINFO

January 10 2016

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Personal Effects: Catherine Opie Interview Magazine

December 29 2015

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Women in Art: Catherine Opie Elle Magazine

November 30 2015

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Catherine Opie creates monumental work for Los Angeles courthouse The Art Newspaper

November 24 2015

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Catherine Opie: The provocateur who photographed Elizabeth Taylor's home CNN

November 2 2015

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Eager for a Fresh Take, Galleries Mine an Unfamiliar Side to Famous Artists New York Times

October 28 2015

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10 Things to See at Frieze London TIME

October 14 2015

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Liz, At Large W Magazine

October 13 2015

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Inside Elizabeth Taylor's Home at 700 Nimes Road Vogue

October 12 2015

L.A. HABITAT: CATHERINE OPIE

ARTnews


L.A. Habitat is a weekly series that visits with 16 artists in their workspaces around the city.

 

This week’s studio: Catherine Opie; West Adams, Los Angeles.

 

“I never thought I would leave the Bay Area,” Catherine Opie said one afternoon last December over a cappuccino at her studio. Opie, who was born in 1961, had moved from Ohio to San Diego with her family when she was 13. Later she moved north to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, and she liked it there. “I was very happy about being queer and coming out and being a part of the leather community,” she continued. “It seemed like L.A. couldn’t compare to what San Francisco offered me in the ’80s.”

 

The photographer was talking in her backyard, an idyllic area framed by avocado trees. She has lived in Southern California now for more than three decades, having ventured south in 1985, after getting her BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute to attend CalArts, in Valencia, which was a formative educational experience.

 

Under the tutelage of pioneering faculty like artists John Baldessari and Judy Fiskin and critic Douglas Crimp, she honed her work. “I had a hardcore photo background at the [San Francisco] Art Institute that was utterly technical,” Opie told me. “CalArts was the opposite conversation, in terms of being a conceptual school. It allowed me to suddenly realize I needed to have ideas behind my work.”

 

Opie has since become famous for her incisive portraits, which deal with how people relate to various communities, societal roles, and subcultures (whether imposed or chosen), and she has most memorably turned the camera on her own body, depicting herself with cuts on her back in 1993 and as a nursing mother in 2004. But she also earned acclaim for her still lifes and landscapes, and L.A. has ended up being a vital source of inspiration for her. She has captured the city’s mini-malls and freeways, the surfers of Malibu and the houses of Beverly Hills and Bel Air.

 

“It’s very hard to depict L.A.,” Opie said. “You can be a street photographer for the rest of your life in San Francisco, whereas in L.A. there is no sense of ‘street’ here, to a certain extent. It challenged me to think, how do you make work about place which isn’t necessarily about people?”

 

Over the course of her three decades in the area, she has become a local fixture—a board member at the Museum of Contemporary Art and a professor at UCLA, where she pushes her students to go off campus and engage with city. “L.A.’s a large place and neighborhoods are so specific,” she said. “How do we begin to think about the diversity of the specific neighborhoods? How can you never go to South Central, and why would you be scared to go to South Central? A lot of my questions for my students are, where is fear blocking us up, and what does that fear really mean?”

 

Teaching has also caused her to think a great deal about social media, where images flow unceasingly. (On Instagram alone, some 80 million photos are posted each day.) “It’s making us very visually literate, but the question is, What is visual literacy in relation to solipsism?” Opie said. “I’m always asking my students: What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?
“We don’t even talk about citizenship anymore, which has everything to do with democracy,” she continued. “I think there’s a responsibility in terms of being an image-maker too.”
Below, a tour of Opie’s West Adams studio.



“700 Nimes Road,” an exhibition of photographs shot at the former home of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor, is on view through May 8 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. “Catherine Opie: Portraits” is on view at the Hammer Museum in the city through May 22.