IN THE MID-1990s, Catherine Opie created a series of photographs, titled “Houses,” that showed the facades of mansions in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. Seemingly devoid of inhabitants, the homes in these imageswith their locked wrought-iron gates and ARMED PATROL lawn signsmanage to look vaguely forbidding despite verdant landscaping and bright Southern California sun. Opie was fully aware of the barricaded privacy and sense of social exclusion the pictures conveyed: “Many of these house photographs are about the closed door,” she has said. “We never really know what’s behind those closed doors.”
In 2010, the doors to at least one Bel Air mansion opened fully to Opie’s photographic practice. That year, Opie was granted unfettered access to the home and belongings of Elizabeth Taylor, a dispensation that permitted the artist to take pictures of the star’s walk-in closets,
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