Catherine Opie’s photograph Angelina Scheirl, 1993, from Phaidon’s Body of Art. Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Catherine Opie.
The photographer Catherine Opie emerged during the era of the culture wars with searing, confrontational portraits and self-portraits—works that simultaneously asserted queer identity, aspirational American domesticity, and membership in the art-historical fraternity of Holbein, Bronzino, et. al.. In one of her best-known works, Self-Portrait / Cutting (1993), Opie turned away from the camera to reveal a childlike image of a house and a stick-figure couple that had been carved into the skin of her upper back. Behind her was a rich background of green brocade, reminiscent of the one in Holbein’s Portrait of Thomas Cromwell. […]