PREVIEW: The Gang: Photographs by Catherine Opie

Besi Besemar October 4, 2014

A new acquisition for the Walker Art Gallery takes the centre of a stunning collection of work by leading American photographer, Catherine Opie.

The Gang

The Gang: Photographs by Catherine Opie (1990), running at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool from October 4 to February 15 2015, is a major part of Liverpool’s Homotopia Festival 2014.

The iconic image presented to the Walker by the Contemporary Art Society with the support of the gallery, gives the exhibition its name and is one of 25 photographs by Opie on display. It features Opie’s friends photographed together in a humorous pose that is defiant, yet tender.

Catherine says: “I made The Gang after individually shooting them all for the 1991 body of work, Being and Having. It was great to see them with their moustaches and I couldn’t resist making some group photos of them… I think it is perfect in celebrating Homotopia as this work was made 20 years ago, in relationship to visibility within my own queer community. It is good to celebrate and reflect on equality that has been achieved and celebrated as well as the fight in regards to homophobia that continues.”

The exhibition comprises both striking black and white and colour photographs taken from 1987 to 2012. The subjects are mostly Opie’s friends from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer community. The body of work is at times explicit and challenging in its content, but also playful and intimate.

The Walker Art Gallery’s Head of Fine Art, Ann Bukantas said: “We are thrilled to now hold The Gang in the Walker Art Gallery’s collection. We’re very grateful to Contemporary Art Society for presenting the piece, which is another demonstration of our commitment to inclusion and audience diversity. The acquisition has been the inspiration for this exhibition.

“Catherine Opie is an interesting artist whose work gives personal insight into an often marginalised community through her explorations of identity, sexuality and gender. What is unique about the work is the warmth and intimacy – and sometimes the humour – of the images which break down the sense of ‘otherness’ and instead evoke an increasing empathy. Her work is perfect for the context of the 2014 Homotopia Festival.”

The Contemporary Art Society’s Director, Caroline Douglas added: “Catherine Opie is one of the most compelling portrait photographers worldwide and her work is emblematic of how artists reflect the changing values and mores of wider society.

“The donation of The Gang is the result of an intense period of research into works by artists who deal with LGBT themes and demonstrates our commitment to the Walker Art Gallery, to whom we have donated over 80 works since 1979.”

The exhibition has been organised with the support of the artist, Stephen Friedman Gallery in London and Homotopia.

One of the finest art galleries in Europe, the Walker Art Gallery is home to renaissance masterpieces, Tudor portraits and one of the best collections of Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite art in the country. An outstanding display of contemporary art includes work by David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Bridget Riley.


Walker Art Gallery William Brown Street, Liverpool Admission FREE


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