Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road presents recent work by Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Opie, one of the essential figures in contemporary photography. Taken over the course of six months at the Bel Air, California, residence of Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011), the photographs in the exhibition are selected from two 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.
Opie photographs rooms, closets, shoes, clothing, and jewelry that intimately depict the life of screen star and cultural icon Elizabeth Taylor, compiling an indirect portrait of a life defined by wealth and fame. With an investigative eye, Opie documents the grandeur and minute details of the home in a range of visual scales. Scrutinizing without revealing the complete picture, objects accumulate, rooms become landscapes, and clothing is transformed into fields of color and texture. Opie’s lens portrays Taylor’s life experience and eccentricity as an illusory subject, one that cannot be specifically designated or precisely described. In the artist’s words, the project is not about the relationship to celebrity, but about “the relationship to what is human.”
Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road is organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Presentation at the George Eastman Museum is made possible in part by the Rubens Family Foundation, with additional support from St. John's Living.