West Hollywood, CA
Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road presents new and recent work by Los Angeles–based artist Catherine Opie, an essential figure in contemporary photography. Taken over the course of six months at the Bel-Air, California, residence of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor, the exhibition’s photographs are drawn 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. The artist photographs rooms, closets, shoes, clothing, and jewelry that depict an indirect, yet deeply intimate, portrait of a life defined by wealth and fame. In the artist’s words, the project is not about the relationship to celebrity but about “the relationship to what is human.”
With an investigative eye, Opie documents the grandeur and minute details of a home in a range of visual scales. Scrutiny tempered with restraint allows objects to accumulate, rooms to become landscapes, and clothing to be 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.”
Exhibition overview from the MOCA and NSU websites
Whether or not you go, the exhibition catalog, 700 Nimes Road, presents an "indirect portrait" of Elizabeth Taylor through her home and possessions. The images were culled from photos Opie took over the course of six months, both on the grounds of and inside Taylor's home. The subjects are wildly diverse -- a dog-eared remote control manual, close-ups of Taylor's enormous closets, shelves of tchotchkes and priceless works of art -- telling more about Taylor's life than any "celebrity" portrait ever could.