Catherine Opie takes us inside of Elizabeth Taylor’s extravagant house

Catherine Opie – Shoe closet, 2010-2011, A hair-washing station inside the shoe closet, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Shoe closet, 2010-2011, A hair-washing station inside the shoe closet, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home

Introduction

Tons of books have been written about Elizabeth Taylor. The legendary actor, humanitarian, and musician has inspired authors, artists, and entertainers across different generations. For this reason, it’s little wonder that Catherine Opie also saw the wisdom in following those who blazed the trail before her. Through her Elizabeth Taylor work, Opie shows us a different side of the famous British-American. Opie was more interested in depicting the famed actor through her 700 Nimes Road home in Los Angeles and other household belongings.

Catherine Opie – Fang and Chanel, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home, Taylor’s cat Fang, roaming over her Chanel shoes
Catherine Opie – Fang and Chanel, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home, Taylor’s cat Fang, roaming over her Chanel shoes

Artistic Book

Opie is a renowned and highly established photographer. Consequently, it’s no wonder that her name would be associated with such a stunning piece of work. More importantly, it was obvious that she was always going to approach all that photography from a different perspective. Her work would involve bringing out the intimate and poignant aspects of Taylor’s life both as a star and person. Over the years, Opie has established herself as a person capable of exploring the relationships between individuals and their communities.

In creating this series, she captured 3,000 pictures of Elizabeth Taylor’s residence. However, together with her team, she finally settled on 129 images out of the tons she took for the book. Interestingly, during the entire project, she was never able to meet Taylor in person. For this reason, don’t expect to see Elizabeth Taylor in person in any of these photos. Opie believed that the images would be enough to present Taylor’s down-to-earth and caring nature to readers.

Catherine Opie – Red Directors Chair, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Red Directors Chair, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie - 700 Nimes Road Installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York January 14 – February 20, 2016
Catherine Opie – 700 Nimes Road, installation view, Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street, New York January 14 – February 20, 2016, photo: Elisabeth Bernstein
Installation view, Catherine Opie, from 700 Nimes Road, Rennie Museum, Vancouver, photo renniemuseum.org
Installation view, Catherine Opie, from 700 Nimes Road, Rennie Museum, Vancouver, 2019

Intimate portraits

Rarely do you encounter an artist who is able to take intimate photos that don’t really feature real people. In this case, Opie managed such a feat. As previously stated, Taylor isn’t in any of her shots. Nevertheless, the photos are still as intimate as any you might have imagined.

It took Opie six months to complete this project. She started just before Taylor was hospitalized. Opie continued with the project and finished it after the famous actor’s death on March 23, 2011. Through these photos, we see how much care and talent Opie put into the project.

Catherine Opie – Bedside Table, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Bedside Table, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home

Video: Catherine Opie speaks about her work

12 min 4 sec
About 700 Nimes Road from 5 min 13 sec

Analysis

In this series, Opie offers us a deeper understanding of the kind of person that Elizabeth Taylor was. By seeing her personal belongings, we get to see a side of her that would have otherwise remained hidden. Opie’s successful exploration and artistic presentation of the contents found in Taylor’s closets is impressive. The images are intriguing. They make Taylor’s possessions seem accessible. They are intimate as well. Some of them are of seemingly mundane stuff, which had significant meaning to Taylor. Undoubtedly, Opie created an outstanding series.

Photos

Accessories
Catherine Opie – Aqua Handbags, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Aqua Handbags, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Handbags and Roses, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Handbags and Roses, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Handbag Reflection, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Handbag Reflection, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Hat Boxes, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Hat Boxes, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – MINE!, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – MINE!, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Sunglasses, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Sunglasses, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Clothes
Catherine Opie – Balloon Shades, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Balloon Shades, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Cowboy Boots, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Cowboy Boots, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Gown Storage Boxes, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Gown Storage Boxes, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 3, 2012 , from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 3, 2012 , from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 9, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 9, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 18, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Closet 18, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Yellow Chiffon Dress for Richard, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Yellow Chiffon Dress for Richard, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Garden
Catherine Opie – Holiday Ornament, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Holiday Ornament, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Koi Pond, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Koi Pond, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Elizabeth Taylor Rose, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Elizabeth Taylor Rose, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Jewelry
Catherine Opie – 700 Nimes Road, Last Day with Jewelry, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – 700 Nimes Road, Last Day with Jewelry, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – A pile of jewels in the actress’s dressing room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – A pile of jewels in the actress’s dressing room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – AIDS Activist, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – AIDS Activist, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Cartier boxes, flanked by photos of Taylor and Burton
Catherine Opie – Cartier boxes, flanked by photos of Taylor and Burton, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Jewelry Boxes #2, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Jewelry Boxes #2, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Jewelry Boxes #6, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Jewelry Boxes #6, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Jewels in Afternoon Light #1, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Jewels in Afternoon Light #1, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Krupp Diamond, 2010-2011, , from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's homeThe Krupp Diamond given to Taylor by Burton
Catherine Opie – Krupp Diamond, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s homeThe Krupp Diamond given to Taylor by Burton
Catherine Opie – La Peregrina Pearl, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – La Peregrina Pearl, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Mike Todd, Diamond Tiara, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Mike Todd, Diamond Tiara, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Pendants and Shadow, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Pendants and Shadow, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Red Silk Pearl Earrings, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Red Silk Pearl Earrings, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Emeralds, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Emeralds, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Quest for Japanese Beef, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home, a close-up of Taylor’s dressing table
Catherine Opie – The Quest for Japanese Beef, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home, a close-up of Taylor’s dressing table
Catherine Opie – Treasure, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home, Cataloged precious jewels, like the Cartier Taj Mahal necklace and Van Cleef & Arpels earrings from Richard Burton
Catherine Opie – Treasure, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home, Cataloged precious jewels, like the Cartier Taj Mahal necklace and Van Cleef & Arpels earrings from Richard Burton
Catherine Opie – Yellow Diamond Ring, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Yellow Diamond Ring, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Living room
Catherine Opie – Living Room North View, An additional view of the living room with various pieces from Taylor’s art collection, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Living Room North View, An additional view of the living room with various pieces from Taylor’s art collection, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Paintings, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Paintings, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Living Room, West View, The living room at 700 Nimes Road, where Elizabeth Taylor’s Andy Warhol portrait hangs quietly on the back right wall
Catherine Opie – Living Room, West View, The living room at 700 Nimes Road, where Elizabeth Taylor’s Andy Warhol portrait hangs quietly on the back right wall, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Andy Warhol to Elizabeth, Self portrait artist, 2010 2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Andy Warhol to Elizabeth, Self portrait artist, 2010 2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Memorabilia
Catherine Opie – Family Photos, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Family Photos, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The Royals, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The Royals, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Bedroom Shelf, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Bedroom Shelf, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Frame, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Frame, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Childhood treasures, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Childhood treasures, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Elizabeth and Richard, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Elizabeth and Richard, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – A fan, from a fan- a birthday gift from Bette Davis to Elizabeth Taylor, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – A fan, from a fan- a birthday gift from Bette Davis to Elizabeth Taylor, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – A Letter, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – A Letter, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Other rooms
Catherine Opie – The blue room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The blue room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Dressing Room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Dressing Room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – The trophy room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – The trophy room, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Oscars, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Oscars, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Kitchen Table, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Kitchen Table, 2010-2011, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – National Velvet Costume Test, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – National Velvet Costume Test, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Office Printer and Photos, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Office Printer and Photos, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Delilah on Dresser, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Delilah on Dresser, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home
Catherine Opie – Chair and Shoes, Red baby shoes and a chair from Taylor’s childhood, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor's home
Catherine Opie – Chair and Shoes, Red baby shoes and a chair from Taylor’s childhood, from 700 Nimes Road, Elizabeth Taylor’s home

 

All images by Catherine Opie unless otherwise noted.

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