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  #1  
Old March 15th, 2013, 06:35 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Catherine Opie, Professor of Photography, UCLA; Chimera of Social Landscape

The pick for our "Photographer of the Week", Catherine Opie!




Picture of Catherine Opie

at a Previous Exhibition will update this with my own shots.

source



This week we focus on an outstanding photographer, Catherine Opie, currently exhibited at the Regen Projects Gallery, 6750 Santa monica Blvd., L.A., 90038, February 28th until March 19th 2013. She's a photographer who gives more than one expects and then demands more than just awe and sighs at the range of beauty and confrontation she creates. She embeds here sets of well-curated images in an aura of better social awareness. Never preachy, she just points her camera to friends and family, as we all do and then to celebrate parts of society she has befriended and understands, that previously have been marginalized.




Brian Forrest: Installation view
Regen Projects, Los Angeles
February 23 - March 29, 2013

Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Catherine Opie


Ms. Opie has, for the last several decades has carved a path for herself representing images of friends, family and members of formally marginalized communities. She's informed by classical portraiture where her pictures are very formal and exquisitely lit and defined. Looking closer, the work appears classical, as if by the brush of 17th century portraitists. "No surprises here!", one would say. This initial impression, while mostly true, will be seen to of a high photographic standard: accomplished with impact, imagination, respect, empathy and great photographic workmanship and mastery.




Then there's the newer series of landscapes, from a seemingly different and more ethereal world. One image was so delicate and unformed that one might be forgiven for imagining soft focused bodies! Others were more definite. Here's a scene of an apparent forrest. This appears more straightforward.




As a group, the pictures in this newer landscape series are blurred, out of focus, but still audacious, beggingly ambitious landscapes, inviting us to just imagine! Having experienced the first lushly Rembrandtoid, precise portraits, we give Opie a grand margin of open-mindedness with her landscapes! They merit sustained interest. What's missing in detail is for us to bring to the image. I guess, that she want's us to do some esthetic lifting too! So far, so good: just two entirely different styles and esthetics to challenge the viewer. But wait, there's more!

Much much more!

Catherine Opie's work is far more rich and complex than just two divisions of work. But that as a start, is a fair beginning of an introduction. These works demonstrate he mastery of the medium and empathy for her subjects. but all is not that kind, placid and jovial. Some, one could argue are unlikely to be sources of comfort where pleasant conversation is the norm, not touching boundaries or confronting anything. This is where Catherine departs form the polite social gatherings of the champagne sipping set who support various good charities and causes.

but first let me digress to remind you of Dantés Inferno. There's an archway over the steps leading down the the successively more cruel and punishing layers of Catholic Hell. Just before one descends, the sign reads, Beyond this point, there's no help.

Dante's Inferno Translation:


"ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE!"


In middle Italian:


Per me si va nella citta dolente per me si va nell'eterno dolore
per me si va tra la perduta gente
giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore
facemi la divina podestate
la soma sapienza e la primo amore
devante a me, non fuor cosa create
sei non eterno, ed io eterno duro
lasciate ogne speranze voi qu'intrate


Translation:


Through me the way to the suffering city
Through me the way to eternal pain
Through me the way that runs amond the lost
Justice urged on my high artifier
my maker was divine authority
the highest wisdom, and the primal love
Before me, nothing but eternal things were made
and I endure eternally
Abandon all hope, who enter here

Source


In her further more acerbic work, she is most well known! It's as if she worked in the most upper floors of Dante's descent to hell. for this is where the Catholic Church of Dantés time and long before and afterwards, would place her subjects if they could. So it's risky but not without complex balance of beauty and social questions.

She's also established herself in impressive and not to be ignored allegorical work where she's no longer reserved and she appears to be speaking on social and political issues close to her heart. It's here that we enter a world of pierced flesh, the blood loss of women and questioning the very fabric of society.



I'll try to introduce all three of these main groupings and give reference to other review of past exhibitions of her work.
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  #2  
Old March 15th, 2013, 06:51 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Default Artistic Experience!

To do my duty of providing a framework of this photographer's claim to fame, I've copied from the UCLA website describing Professor Catherine Opie's extensive and well regarded work.

"Opie’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. Her selected solo exhibitions include shows at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; St. Louis Art Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Thread Waxing Space, New York; Art Pace, San Antonio; Regen Projects, Los Angeles; Jay Gorney Modern Art, New York; Stephen Friedman, London; Barbara Gladstone, New York; Galeria Massimo De Carlo, Milan; Foncke Galerie, Ghent; and Ginza Art Space, Tokyo.

Selected group exhibitions include Age of Influence, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The American Century: Art and Culture 1900–2000, Whitney Museum of Art; Plain Air, Barbara Gladstone, New York; Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Signs of Life, Melbourne International Biennial, Australia; Love’s Body: Rethinking Naked and Nude in Photography, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan; From the Corner of the Eye, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Made in California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; American Art 1975–1995, Whitney Museum of American Art; Sunshine & Noir: Art in LA 1960–1997, Louisiana Museum, Humlebaek, Denmark; Rrose is a Rrose is a Rrose: Gender Performance in Photography, Guggenheim Museum, New York and Museum of Fine Art, Boston; Pictures of Modern Life, École des Beaux Arts, Brussels; Black and Blue, Groniger Museum, Holland; Persona, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; Feminine-Masculine: the Sex of Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris; La Belle et la Bête: Art Contemporain Américan, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the 1995 Biennial and the 2004 Biennial, Whitney Museum of Art. Opie was a recipient of the United States Artists Fellowship in 2006. In September of 2008, the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened a mid-career exhibition titled, Catherine Opie: American Photographer.

MFA, California Institute of the Arts; BFA, San Francisco Art Institute."
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Old March 15th, 2013, 07:53 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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More to follow, first the portraits which are just beautiful where one would think of her as the court painters of old, keeping her opinions largely to herself, (but that might be superficial a reading).

Then I'll show the landscapes and their influence on the installation of her other progeny of photographs on neighboring wall space on that wall.

Finally I'll attempt to cover the more complex allegorical images. For these I really need to get an interview with the artist and she's currently facing a busy travel schedule, so I just have to risk being wrong, but at least I'll be honest.

Asher
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Old March 15th, 2013, 10:28 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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Now we can start. Let's look at beauty, attitude and superb imagery.



Catherine Opie:Lawrence (Black Shirt)
Pigment Print, 2012
33 x 25 inches (83.8 x 63.5 cm)
Edition 2/5, + 2 APs








Catherine Opie
Pigment Print, 2012
50 x 38.4 inches (127 x 97.5 cm) Oval
Edition 1/5, + 2 APs






Guinevere
Pigment Print, 2012
33 x 25 inches (83.8 x 63.5 cm)
Edition 1/5, + 2 APs






Oliver & Mrs. Nibbles_
Pigment Print, 2012
33 x 25 inches (83.8 x 63.5 cm)
Edition 2/5, + 2 APs


So, call this "the beginning of the pictures", "section one", if you like. I see a commonality of time passing during the shoot as opposed to a picture stopping life in one split second. The people are not caught by the photographer, they are so aware and linger for her. Your impressions and feedback are invited. Enjoy and be bold!

Asher
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  #5  
Old March 16th, 2013, 10:59 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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These portraits are remarkable for their beautiful rich but not overlay exaggerated color, the gentle but defining lighting and the detailed rendering of the subjects. One could count the threads of fabric or look for faults in a print face with this much detail. But there's another more spiritual motif that ties these pictures together and it's a sense of suspended, prolonged patient intimacy, a performative bond between the subject and the photographer.

Asher
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  #6  
Old March 16th, 2013, 09:18 PM
Chris Calohan Chris Calohan is offline
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It is the court artist look to her work that draws the artist's eye. While I wouldn't attribute her style to any one particular artist, or even genre, the works of Thomas Gainsborough come immediately to mind. Oliver & Mrs. Nibbles could almost be Blue Boy in Red. I do see a lot of a 17th century Flemish art influence to her work.

Oddly, I am not drawn to her work at all. And it could be that Dutch influence in that also not being my favorite time period, Still, her work is exquisitely lit, composed and the detail to die for.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 06:55 PM
Antonio Correia Antonio Correia is offline
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Some excellent portraits...

However, I am not very found of the elipse crop of the writer ... but I love the lighting in all of them. I mean the way they are all lit.

The gallery is superb. What a space... and lighting...
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