Tate Modern

Catherine Opie

Natalie Bell Building Level 2 West

Catherine Opie 700 Nimes Road 2010-11. © Catherine Opie, 2014

Catherine Opie creates an intimate portrait of a Hollywood star by photographing the actor’s home and possessions

700 Nimes Road 2010–11 is a portfolio of fifty photographs of the Los Angeles residence of the British-American actor and AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011). Opie made this work in the months just before and after Taylor’s death. She and Taylor employed the same accountant. Opie gained access to her home through this contact but never met Taylor in person. Nonetheless, the photographs form a portrait of the house and, by implication, of Taylor.

The portfolio is deliberately different from house shoots in celebrity magazines. Opie records Taylor’s expensive possessions and glamorous clothes but does not create an impression of outrageous opulence. Carpets are worn, and television sets old-fashioned. One image documents Taylor’s collection of red AIDS ribbons.

700 Nimes Road deals with presence and absence in several ways, most powerfully in the way it depicts Taylor without ever showing the woman herself. In a handful of photographs, Opie’s image appears as a reflection, registering her presence and her act of recording. After Taylor’s death, her belongings were sold and dispersed. Opie’s photographs capture the last moments they were together in the actor’s home.


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