Catherine Opie

Since the early 1990s, Catherine Opie has produced a complex body of photographic work, creating series of images that explore notions of communal, sexual, and cultural identity. From her early portraits of queer subcultures to her expansive urban landscapes, Opie has offered profound insights into the conditions in which communities form and the terms in which they are defined. All the while she has maintained a strict formal rigor, working in lush and provocative color as well as richly toned black and white. Influenced by social documentary photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and August Sander, Opie underscores and elevates the poignant yet unsettling veracity of her subjects.

The images are indeed unsettling. Raw and well observed.

Opie’s composition in Self-Portrait/Cutting depicts the artist’s bare back, into which the bleeding image of an otherwise idyllic scene of lesbian domesticity—two women frolicking in front of a house, depicted in a childlike, stick-figure scrawl—was cut with a scalpel. Inspired by a recent breakup, this drawing expresses the artist’s private emotions but also suggests how the politics of gender and sexual orientation can filter into individual lives. At the same time, the photograph co-opts the tradition of the female nude and presents Opie’s own skin as a canvas or a photographic emulsion upon which her desires are carved or captured.


The use of blood as paint, and her body as a canvas. In this respect her work, or this body of her work links in towards my project. It is certainly academically relevant

A very interesting intelligent, and perceptive interview with her here….  here.

and here..

Interesting quote. Again I like the way she references her portraits.. I think it will be important to avoid the “vacant” look.

“My women embody space, they look back at you, they look off at you, I’ve always treated women in relationship to holding a sort of power within the frame and a lot of male photographers photograph the woman only as object. My portraits are never about objects they’re always still about a person. I never think of the body as an object. Do you think my photographs look as such?”