In Conversation: Catherine Opie with Dr Nicholas Cullinan
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2 October 2017, 14:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
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The seminal American photographer Catherine Opie talks to Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of The National Portrait Gallery about her wide-ranging practice and her recent body of work, Portraits and Landscapes.
They will discuss her practice as a portrait maker and photographer and consider it in the context of its continual dialogue with the history of painting and photography, as well as the challenges and interest of making portraits in the digital age.
Catherine Opie is considered one of the leading photographers of her generation and one of the foremost documentarians of American life. Her practice, sometimes described as ‘social portraiture’, spans studio portraits, seascapes, landscapes, scenes of American domestic life, freeways, malls, cities and political rallies.
Opie shot to prominence in the mid 1990s with a spectacular sequence of studio portraits of her close friends from within the west coast leather community: transvestites, transsexuals, drag queens, body manipulators and others who pioneer the body as a site of sexual and aesthetic experimentation, creating a sequence of elegant, richly coloured portraits which empowered her subjects with a regal dignity.
Her most recent body of work Portraits and Landscapes, directly engages with old master European portraiture with their chiaroscuro, rich colour, and formal composition, and includes portraits of fellow artists and creative luminaries David Hockney, Gillian Wearing, Isaac Julien and designer Duro Olowu amongst many others.
Born in 1961 in Sandusky, Ohio, Catherine Opie received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from CalArts. Since 2001 she has been a Professor of Photography at UCLA. Her work has been the subject of major exhibitions at the Hammer Museum (2016), LA MOCA (2016), the Wexner Center for the Arts (2015), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2010); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2008); MCA Chicago (2006); and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002). Her work is held in many public and private collections internationally. Opie’s first major European survey exhibition, at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway, runs from 6 October 2017 – 7 January, 2018. Catherine Opie lives and works in Los Angeles.
Portraits and Landscapes are exhibited for the first time in the UK at Thomas Dane Gallery, 3 Duke St, St James’s, SW1Y from 3 October - 18 November, 2017, 10.00 – 18.00 (Private View will be held on Monday 2 October from 6-8pm).