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Opie @ Elizabeth Taylor’s House

You likely recognize the Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor above. You might have even seen one of Warhol’s Liz series if you’ve been lucky to travel to museums like The Tate in London.

Now, take a look at the version below, photographed in Elizabeth Taylor’s house.

You’ll notice a shadowy figure to the right, hovering over Taylor’s shoulder. That’s renowned LA artist and contemporary photographer, Catherine Opie.

“It’s Andy Warhol looking at Elizabeth Taylor, but then my reflection of me looking at Warhol looking at Elizabeth in Elizabeth’s house.”

Opie’s portrait of Warhol’s Taylor is from her 700 Nimes Road series. Opie was invited to photograph Taylor’s home and possessions, prior to and just after Dame Elizabeth’s death. “What does it mean to make a portrait of somebody through their home?” Opie asks. “Mine was never a portrait of her, it was a portrait of her through her belongings. “We can all of a sudden find the human in her, because there’s a dog-eared remote control manual on her bedside table.”

Though Opie spent six months in 2010 to 2011 photographing Taylor’s Nimes Road residence, she never actually met the ailing actress, though Taylor was sometimes home when Opie was shooting. All communications were through Taylor’s long time Executive Assistant, Tim Mendelson. Opie then had to whittle 3,000 images down to 129.

We’re able to examine pieces from Opie’s Nimes Road series through a tour of the Spring 2019: Collected Works exhibit at the Rennie Museum, insightfully led by Curatorial Masters student and docent, Tiffany Lam. On one side of the upstairs gallery, we see portraits of the home as Elizabeth lived in it. On the other wall, we see the home in transition after Taylor’s death, her precious possessions being sorted for loved ones and auction houses.

Day to Day Life @ Elizabeth Taylor’s House

Post Passing. House in Transition

In 2016, Opie talked to The Guardian about poking through Taylor’s famous jewel collection. “I went into that room and opened drawer after drawer and it was like beyond what I even imagined. The labeling through the years on the boxes, I just became very touched by that. The tape and the handling and the rips in the corners and everything shows a person loving something so much that there’s wear on it.”

Amidst all of Opie’s striking images, one photo on the Transition wall catches the eye. Nestled behind neat boxes of jewels boxed up for transport is a silver-framed photo of Taylor and her twice-husband Richard Burton lost in a cuddle with one of their children.

As Elizabeth Taylor said: “When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer. I haven’t had tomorrow.”

 

Spring 2019: Collected Works at the Rennie Museum features these and other Opie photos from 700 Nimes Road. Your docent will also walk you through William E. Jones Villa Iolas series – created 1982/2017, along with a giant Pollock and Tureen wall by Louise Lawler, and paintings by Andrew Grassie that look remarkably like photographs.

Tickets are free, but limited, and require booking in advance. Spring 2019: Collected Works is scheduled to run through June 15, 2019.

Tour Bookings @ The Rennie

Written by Elizabeth Newton
www.creatorsvancouver.com

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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton