Personal Effects

Published December 14, 2015

ABOVE: CATHERINE OPIE’S THE QUEST FOR JAPANESE BEEF, 2010-2011. COPYRIGHT CATHERINE OPIE, COUTRESY OF REGEN PROJECTS, L.A. AND LEHMANN MAUPIN, NEW YORK AND HONG KONG.

Photographer Catherine Opie is known for her seemingly disparate interests; some of her most famous series have been of S&M enthusiasts and high school football players. But Opie’s work is united by a desire to chip away society’s one-dimensional imagining of her subjects. So she seized the opportunity when Elizabeth Taylor, shortly before her death, invited Opie to photograph her Bel Air mansion at 700 Nimes Road. “I started to think about portraiture that didn’t necessarily show the person, but that was utterly about the person in a more in-depth way,” Opie says. “With someone as iconic as Elizabeth Taylor, what does it mean to slowly reveal her through her home?” In January, a show of 52 photographs will open at MOCA Pacific Design Center, including images of Taylor’s densely packed closet and her jewels. Meanwhile, Opie herself has a busy calendar, with openings the same month at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and Lehmann Maupin in New York.