102 // HOME, SWEET EL­IZ­A­BETH

Ocean Drive - - Contents - BY BECKY RANDEL

Famed artist Cather­ine Opie offers an in­ti­mate look into the life of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor through “700 Nimes Road,” a pho­to­graphic ex­hibit of Tay­lor’s home and be­long­ings.

FAMED ARTIST CATHER­INE OPIE OFFERS AN IN­TI­MATE LOOK INTO THE LIFE OF EL­IZ­A­BETH TAY­LOR THROUGH “700 NIMES ROAD,” A PHO­TO­GRAPHIC EX­HIBIT OF TAY­LOR’S HOME AND BE­LONG­INGS.

Fans of El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor will soon find them­selves one step closer to the iconic leg­end. NSU Art Mu­seum in Fort Lauderdale is giv­ing a rare glimpse into the in­ner sanc­tum of the Hol­ly­wood star (and ac­tivist), through artist Cather­ine Opie’s pho­tog­ra­phy ex­hibit “700 Nimes Road.”

Opie spent six months doc­u­ment­ing Tay­lor’s home and be­long­ings, dur­ing which time the ac­tress suddenly died. “Once she passed away, I re­al­ized that this is re­ally the last por­trait of El­iz­a­beth in some ways,” Opie says. “So you feel that you’re not just look­ing at an ar­chive of be­long­ings; the no­tion of [her] home is re­ally em­bed­ded within the body of work.”

That’s be­cause “700 Nimes Road” strays far from the staged portraits of celebrity homes we’re used to see­ing. They’re in­ti­mate im­ages—shots of the star’s ex­ten­sive wardrobe, her price­less jew­els (“She loved to be adored and adorned,” says Opie), tweez­ers at her makeup table, and art at ev­ery cor­ner. The im­pres­sive col­lec­tion in­cluded a paint­ing Tay­lor made her­self as a teen, as well as horse sculp­tures done by her daugh­ter, Liza.

As for Tay­lor’s con­nec­tion to Hol­ly­wood, Opie says that one el­e­ment truly stood out. “A lot of per­sonal items in re­la­tion­ship to Michael Jack­son—from gifts to a shirt that hung in her closet to his me­mo­rial pho­to­graph on her bed­side table. I knew that she had a friend­ship with Michael, but I didn’t know what a deep friend­ship that was.” She also no­ticed a mes­sage on Tay­lor’s mir­ror, writ­ten in lip­stick by ac­tor Colin Farrell, that said he was go­ing to take her on a quest for “Ja­panese beef.”

NSU Chief Cu­ra­tor Bonnie Clear­wa­ter, who tracked the project at its 2014 Art Basel pre­view, says, “There’s a very strong fem­i­nin­ity, al­most a clichéd fem­i­nin­ity.” She points to Tay­lor’s as­sort­ment of Chanel shoes as a favorite im­age. “These beau­ti­ful Chanel shoes with the hand-carved camellia flower on them—they are all a slightly dif­fer­ent hue, but it’s the same shoe.”

Af­ter a two-year edit­ing process, Opie hopes view­ers see Tay­lor as a mul­ti­di­men­sional per­son rather than just a movie star. “Celebri­ties [are] also hu­man,” she says. “I think we for­get this in our very celebrity-sat­u­rated world.”

Clear­wa­ter agrees: “One of the last pho­to­graphs is of shop­ping bags with jew­elry be­ing taken off to Christie’s. How quickly we go from life to death. But at the same time, hers was a life re­ally well spent.” Fe­bru­ary 12–June 14, NSU Art Mu­seum Fort Lauderdale, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-5500; nsuart­mu­seum.org

Cather­ine Opie shot Hand­bag Re­flec­tion while doc­u­ment­ing El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’s Bel Air home. From the “700 Nimes Road” portfolio, 2010–2011, on dis­play at NSU Art Mu­seum in Fort Lauderdale.

clock­wise from left: El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor in an un­dated shot. Im­ages from the “700 Nimes Road” portfolio: A por­trait of Tay­lor by Andy Warhol, with the re­flec­tion of Opie vis­i­ble in the glass; a hol­i­day or­na­ment hang­ing in a win­dow of Tay­lor’s home; the tro­phy room; fem­i­nine bal­loon shades.

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