World-renowned artist Catherine Opie creates an intimate view of Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor through images of her home and mementos
Rochester, N.Y., September 26, 2016—Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road will be on view at the George Eastman Museum on October 1, 2016, through January 8, 2017. The exhibition presents recent work by Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Opie, one of the essential figures in contemporary photography. Opie’s photographs of the rooms, closets, shoes, clothing, and jewelry of Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011) create an indirect yet intimate portrait of a life defined by wealth and fame.
Taken over the course of six months at the Bel Air, California, residence of screen star and cultural icon Elizabeth Taylor, the photographs in the exhibition are selected from two of Opie’s series, Closets and Jewels and 700 Nimes Road. Inspired by William Eggleston’s images of Elvis Presley’s Memphis estate, Graceland, Opie creates a portrait of Taylor from her personal space and mementos.
“As one of the preeminent contemporary photographers, Catherine Opie creates portraits and landscapes that democratize the world around us as she equalizes her diverse subjects. Her photographs in Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road are no exception, as she creates an indirect portrait of Elizabeth through images of her home and belongings,” said Jamie M. Allen, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, George Eastman Museum. “While at first glance the images give a sense of grandeur and celebrity, on closer inspection they share an intimate portrait of a human being as details such as her remote control manual and family photographs emerge.”
In the artist’s words, the project is not about the relationship to celebrity, but about “the relationship to what is human.”
Opie’s work gained attention in the mid-1990s when her photograph Self-Portrait/Pervert, 1994, was exhibited at the Whitney Museum of Art. Since then, she has been revered for her ability to photograph the intimacy of community, as it is produced through place, symbols, events, and self-identification. Her photographs record American diversity with both portraits and landscapes. Her unique form of social documentary photography has led her to create work about subjects ranging from lesbian families and San Francisco’s S&M community to high school football players and surfers. Her landscape work has addressed strip malls and freeway junctions in Los Angeles, as well as formal architectural studies in Chicago and New York. Her most recent body of work, Portraits and Landscapes, combines the two genres, drawing upon art historical references such as old master paintings and Pictorialist photographs.
Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Its presentation at the George Eastman Museum is made possible in part by the Rubens Family Foundation, with additional support from St. John’s.
Catherine Opie will be at the museum to speak about her work on Wednesday, October 5 at 6 p.m. The talk will be held in the Dryden Theatre, and is included with museum admission; $14 adults, $12 seniors (62+), $5 for students, and free for museum members. Opie will be signing her book, 700 Nimes Road, following the talk.
In addition to the talk, the Dryden Theatre will be screening a selection of Elizabeth Taylor films, as part of its Tennessee Williams ± Elizabeth Taylor film series. The films starring Taylor include:
- Saturday, October, 1, 8 p.m., Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Richard Brooks, 1958)
- Sunday, October 9, 2 p.m., Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959)
- Sunday, October 16, 2 p.m., Boom! (Joseph Losey, 1968)
- Sunday, October 23, 2 p.m., Secret Ceremony (Joseph Losey, 1968)
- Saturday, November 26, 8 p.m., Ivanhoe (Richard Thorpe, US/UK 1952)
For more information about the screenings, visit eastman.org/dryden.