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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Related Press

Photographer Catherine Opie On Portraits And Politics

Liam Freeman Vogue First published on 3 October 2017

© Catherine Opie, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Thomas Gane Gallery, London.

In 2011, after visiting a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at London's National Gallery, the American fine art photographer Catherine Opie conceived the idea of shooting a series of portraits and landscapes inspired by the Old Masters. Last night, for her first show with Thomas Dane Gallery in London, a new chapter in this series was unveiled. Opie chose friends and people in her creative sphere as subjects, including artists (Anish Kapoor, David Hockney, Gillian Wearing and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye); fashion designers (Duro Olowu and Rick Owens), the writer Jonathan Franzen and the curator Thelma Golden – photographed against the same black background, and lit in such a way that they glow like embers, allowing each one's individuality to speak for itself.

'I've never had any interest in recreating existing works,' Opie explains in her soothing contralto. 'What I find enticing about Old Masters is the allegory they create of the world at the time they were painted.' As one of the greatest living documentarians of the American landscape, sociopolitically as well as literally, Opie's images capture our zeitgeist the same way that Walker Evans' encapsulated the effects of the Great Depression, or Ansel Adams eternalised the breathtaking beauty of the threatened natural world through his studies of Yosemite National Park.

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