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“Like the Romantic painters before her, Opie expresses a desire to return to nature for quiet contemplation. She does not ask for much; she would probably photograph anything ‘so long as they are wild.’ While pointing at the beauty of these sights, she makes a subtle plea for environmental preservation: if society goes on operating in such an unsustainable manner, all of this is what we are poised to lose.” — Art Asia Pacific
Catherine Opie’s portrait of Yosemite National Park is meditative and personal, focusing on individual elements – a waterfall, a tree or the expansive sky above – rather than on the majestic impression of the place for which it is known. Indeed, when she does step back and present a wider view of the vista she is facing, she pulls it out of focus, allowing for a moment of reflection before moving on to the next photograph.
While the artist first became well in the art world for her closeup, often confrontational photographs of human subjects, Opie allows the human presence to “empty out” in her landscape photographs. As she explains in a 2001 interview with Art Journal, “The emptiness is about loss. It’s about nostalgia . . . trying to capture, document people and places before they disappear.” In the context of nature, the emptiness conveys a longing for a time when these landscapes were untouched by mankind.
One of the most influential and widely published contemporary artists of her generation, Catherine Opie has exhibited her work at the Whitney Biennial and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford. The recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Opie is currently a tenured professor at UCLA.
ISBN 978-1-59005-483-3Hardcover, Slipcased,
380 x 305 mm, 36 pages,
24 four-color plates