Image Above: Catherine Opie, Untitled #4, Richmond, Virginia (monument/monumental), 2020,
Pigment Print, 66 x 44 inches (print), Edition of 5 with 2 AP.
© Catherine Opie. Courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul, and London. Collection of Pamela and David Hornik.
Catherine Opie, Untitled #4, Richmond, Virginia (monument/monumental)
monument/monumental is a series of photographs by Catherine Opie, which expands on her large body of work investigating the American landscape. This series was created during the summer of 2020 while Opie was on a cross-country road trip through the western and southern United States. 2020 marked a major moment in examining the national history of the US, and monument/monumental bears poetic witness to this moment in time.
Untitled #4 Richmond, Virginia, features the monument of Robert E. Lee located in Richmond, Virginia, grafittied with words of protest against police brutality and racism in response to the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. The Black Lives Matter protests have brought the removal of many Confederate monuments, yet this statue remains. Opie’s photograph is a reflection on this year of national reckoning and the conversations around the role of monuments in cultural identity. Opie is inviting us to consider how this monument’s meaning has changed – how it could now represent resistance and uprising – simultaneously signifying a violent past and potential for change.
Catherine Opie (b. 1961 in Sandusky, OH; lives in Los Angeles) is known for her powerfully dynamic photography that examines the ideals and norms surrounding the culturally constructed American dream and American identity. She first gained recognition in the 1990s for her series of studio portraits titled Being and Having, in which she photographed gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals drawn from her circle of friends and artists. Opie has traveled extensively across the country exploring the diversity of America’s communities and landscapes, documenting quintessential American subjects—high school football players and the 2008 presidential inauguration—while also continuing to display America’s subcultures through formal portraits. In her portraits and landscapes, Opie establishes a level of ambiguity of both identity and place by exaggerating masculine or feminine characteristics, or by exaggerating distance, cropping, or blurring her landscapes.
Opie received a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute in 1985, and an M.F.A. from CalArts in 1988. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2016); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2011); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, IL (2006); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2002); and others. Opie’s work is in numerous international public and private collections, including The Broad, Los Angeles, CA; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico; Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY; Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Miami Art Museum, Miami, FL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; among many others. Opie has received numerous awards and fellowships, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Guggenheim Fellowship, Photography (2019), Aperture Foundation Award (2018), Smithsonian Archives of American Art Medal (2016), Women’s Caucus for Art President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009). She has been a professor of fine art at the University of California, Los Angeles, since 2001 and serves on the board of directors of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.