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Catherine Opie's New Exhibit Lets NYC Inside Elizabeth Taylor's Bedroom
Renowned fine arts photographer Catherine Opie, whose work straddles both conceptual and documentary-styles as it explores the changing nature of the American dream and notions of contemporary identity, stages shows at both Lehmann Maupin’s Manhattan spaces in early January.
The Chelsea show focuses on portraits and landscapes. Why?
We’re in a selfie society, so what can we do with portraiture any more? How can we hold the viewer? Portraits are powerful, and it’s hard to be in a room full of other people so I also made these abstract landscapes of national parks.
On the Lower East Side, you’re showing images from your book project, 700 Nimes Road, where you photographed the late Elizabeth Taylor’s home in LA.
One of my favorite pictures is the bedside table, with the dog-eared remote and the emery boards—they’re used, and the imprint of the body is utterly important. The crosses and Stars of David on hangers? Elizabeth staged that in her closet, just as something she put together when she was thinking of going out one night.
What about her jewelry?
Her long time assistant was pretty upset while she was in the hospital, so he staged a treasure booty image [in a Louis Vuitton case], but it was based on stories of Elizabeth, who was an insomniac, spending hours at night playing with her jewelry.
201 Chrystie St., and 536 West 22nd St.; lehmannmaupin.com, Opening January 14