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Collection > Catherine Opie >

Self Portrait

1993

  • Medium

    Chromogenic print

  • Credit

    Gift of Michael A. Mehring 

  • Accession number

    96.7

  • Object label

    Catherine Opie’s three-quarter-length self-portrait presents the artist from the back rather than the front. Opie’s skin is freshly incised with a childlike family portrait, featuring a gable-roofed house, the sun peeking from behind a cloud, and two skirt-wearing stick figures holding hands. This hopeful, if painful, image of lesbian domestic bliss, alongside Opie’s tattoo, ear piercings, and hairstyle, depicts the artist’s queer identity as it is borne by her body. The sumptuous green fabric backdrop evokes sixteenth-century European portraits of aristocrats and royalty. Opie strategically uses the language of art history, both in the decorative background and in the classical, formal composition, to represent herself, and by extension the “leather dyke” members of her S/M community, as “noble.”