Neal Baer Collection

Catherine Opie



Inkjet print
Edition 1 of 8 + 2AP

20.3 x 20.3 cm (8 x 8 in)

Image courtesy of the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery

Catherine Opie (b. 1961, Sandusky, Ohio) lives and works in Los Angeles. This portrait of her friend, artist Monica Majoli, is an early work from a series of black and white portraits of figures in the Los Angeles queer community in the early 1990s.

Catherine Opie began her “public” artistic career in 1991 with a series of thirteen photographs titled “Being and Having.” The title was a seeming allusion to Jacques Lacan’s contentious psychoanalytic system that posits women as “being” the phallus, and men as “having” it. Rejecting outright such heterosexist structuralism, Opie’s staged “documentary” portraits depicted (and thereby demarcated) a community organized around its members’ identifications with butch-dyke, queer, trans, and s/m politics. But the photos never seemed to represent “identity politics” proper, which, at least in its most vulgar manifestations, has always been about essentialism and the presupposition of a subject (a “doer behind the deed,” per Nietzsche, via Judith Butler, who in the early 1990s was building her own powerful critique of Lacan’s presumptively “straight” model). On the contrary, Opie’s images—while about visibility, group identification, and, certainly, subjecthood—have always suggested that you, too, could get in on the fun. Opie wasn’t born with pervert carved into her chest; she made it that way. Her work is about deep identifications—not identity.

David Velasco, “Catherine Opie, Gladstone Gallery,” Artforum, Summer 2010

Thomas Dane Gallery

See also
Monica Majoli, Carl (2019)

Interview with Catherine Opie, Artforum, September 30, 2008

Catherine Opie in the collection of the MOCA Los Angeles

Catherine Opie in the collection of the MoMA

Catherine Opie in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art

Catherine Opie in the collection of the LACMA

Catherine Opie at Lehmann Maupin

Catherine Opie at Regen Projects

Catherine Opie at Thomas Dane

Hammer Museum, “Catherine Opie: O,” February 13 – October 2, 2016

Nico Israel, “Catherine Opie, Gorney Bravin + Lee,” Artforum Summer 2000

Amoreen Armetta, “Catherine Opie, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum,” Artforum Critic’s Picks Online, 2009

Helen Molesworth, “Catherine Opie and ‘THEANYSPACEWHATEVER’,” Artforum March 2009