Untitled (Surfers)


Catherine Opie ( American, 1961 )

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General Description

In this alternately dreamlike and precise photograph, Catherine Opie takes a risk by portraying a well-worn stereotype about Southern California. She succeeds in avoiding cliché by making these surfers still and quiet, allowing us to examine how nature and the human form can seem ideally suited to one another. On the flip side, Untitled also shows how small humans can appear—and in fact are—in the face of nature’s indifferent immensity.

Early in her career, Opie became well known for a range of photographs, from formally rigorous grisaille abstractions of the freeways of Los Angeles, to thematically charged, color-saturated portraits of members of the lesbian, gay, and transgender communities of San Francisco. Then and now, Opie has worked within, but expanded, the idea of documentary photography, pushing the boundaries of the medium to create visually rich and thematically adventurous material.

Excerpt from

Charles Wylie, DMA unpublished material, 2009.

Web Resources

  • Art21
    Learn more about Catherine Opie.