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

By Dorothy Spears

Subjects posing for the Los Angeles-based photographer Catherine Opie have generally tended to meet her clicking shutter with insouciant stares. But in January, when Lehman Maupin opens two exhibitions of her recent work, the overriding feeling will be tenderness. “This time, it’s the viewers who get to stare at the images, instead of being stared at,” Ms. Opie said in an interview.

At its space on the Lower East Side, Lehman Maupin will present “700 Nimes Road,” a new portfolio of 50 photographs that Ms. Opie shot in the Los Angeles mansion of Elizabeth Taylor. The artist sees the project as another way of thinking about portraiture. Taylor put considerable energy into arranging her precious objects, Ms. Opie said. When the actress died in March 2011, three months into the project, she added, “It was very hard.” Yet Ms. Opie continued to photograph the belongings as she had left them.

Ms. Opie said that Taylor always wanted to see her jewelry sparkle in a clichéd sort of way. So, on a final day of shooting, Ms. Opie took all of it outside and laid it on a cushion in the sunshine. “In the most sweet and sensitive way,” she said, “I was shining her jewelry back up to her.” “700 Nimes Road,” Jan. 14 through Feb. 27, 201 Chrystie Street; “Portraits and Landscapes,” same dates, 536 West 22nd Street, Chelsea.