Catherine Opie: American Photographer

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Due to the redesign of, past exhibitions prior to 2008 are archived externally; visiting these pages will open a new window.




Catherine Opie Selects: Pictures and Words
September 26, 2008–January 7, 2009
While celebrated for her role behind the camera, Catherine Opie remains acutely aware of the voices of her subjects and the diverse readings all images engender. Exploring this circuit of interpretation, Opie has selected images from the Guggenheim Museum’s photography collection to present alongside questions about the works’ themes and meanings, inviting museum visitors to respond with stories of their own.


Lectures and panel discussions take place in the Peter B. Lewis Theater of the Sackler Center for Arts Education. Unless otherwise noted, tickets for public programs are $10 ($7 members, students). Box Office: 212.423.3587

Identity and Its Aftermaths

Thursday, October 2, 6:30 p.m. Moderator: Liz Kotz, Assistant Professor, University of California, Riverside Participants: Coco Fusco, Jennifer Gonzalez, and Simon Leung
After a period known as Reagan’s America, which was marked by the art of appropriation, a more avowedly political and openly dissenting current emerged. On the occasion of the Catherine Opie retrospective, this panel reconsiders that moment of activism and “identity politics” and its implications with regard to the art making of today.

Opie Performance: The Theater of the Portrait

Thursday, October 16, 6:30 p.m.
Peggy Phelan, The Ann O’Day Maples Chair in the Arts and Professor of Drama and English, Stanford University
Catherine Opie’s collaboration with the performance artist Ron Athey marked an important intervention in both photographic portraiture and live art. Analyzing the challenges and the achievements of this collaboration, the talk explores the complicated visual, sexual, and aesthetic politics that make this work so dramatically compelling.

Conversations with Contemporary Photographers

Monday, December 8, 6:30 p.m.
Participants: Gregory Crewdson and Catherine Opie
Moderator: Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography
While one references staged photography and the other documentary, both Gregory Crewdson and Catherine Opie address the construction of a pictorial narrative and the social dynamics of the American suburbs. The artists reflect on the medium’s complex relationship to truth, their individual contexts within its history, and the many possibilities for its future.


Literary readings in the galleries begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 ($7 members, students). Seating is limited.

Rebecca Solnit: The Blue of Distance

Tuesday, October 7, 6:30 p.m.
Set amidst the photographic landscapes of Catherine Opie’s Icehouses and Surfers series, this reading by award-winning author Rebecca Solnit draws from a body of work that interweaves personal encounters with nature, the exploration of new territory, and the impact of photography on our experience of time and place. Solnit’s work includes River of Shadows (2004) and A Field Guide to Getting Lost (2005).

A. M. Homes: In and Around Home

Wednesday, November 5, 6:30 p.m.
The critically acclaimed novelist and critic A. M. Homes reads a selection of her work amidst Catherine Opie’s In and Around Home series. Homes, like Opie, documents the changing families, suburban culture, and shifting identities contemporary America. Her most recent books include the memoir The Mistress’s Daughter (2007) and the novel This Book Will Save Your Life (2006).


Talks are free with museum admission. Schedules are subject to change. For daily schedules, consult the electronic signboard near the admission desk. No advance reservations required; tours begin at the information desk on the main floor in the rotunda.

Educator’s Eye

Daily at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Join Guggenheim Museum educators for tours and interactive discussions of current exhibitions, the permanent collection, and the Frank Lloyd Wright building.

Mind’s Eye

Monday, October 6, 6–8 p.m.
Join Guggenheim Museum educators Georgia Krantz and Guthrie Nutter for a tour, discussion, and private reception. Programs for partially sighted and blind visitors are presented through verbal imaging and touch; separate programs for hearing-impaired visitors presented in American Sign Language. Assisted listening devices for hard-of-hearing visitors are available daily for Educator Eye museum tours at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Curator’s Eye

Select Fridays at 2 p.m.
Guggenheim Museum curators lead a tour of the exhibition.

October 17
Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography

November 21
Nat Trotman, Assistant Curator

Conservator’s Eye

Friday, November 7, 2 p.m.
Join Associate Conservator Jeffrey Warda for a tour of the Catherine Opie’s work, focusing on her materials and techniques as they pertain to preservation.


Digital Workshop: Photography
Eight Mondays beginning October 20, 4–6 p.m.
In this multisession course, young photographers view and discuss the exhibition Catherine Opie: American Photographer. After considering the themes in Opie’s work, participants pursue personal photographic projects, shooting with digital cameras and editing images with Adobe Photoshop. No experience necessary. Students must apply. Open to incoming 9th–12th graders; $80 per student (includes all materials). Tuition assistance available upon request. For information, call 212.423.3532; or e-mail

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