Walls, Windows and Blood: Lehmann Maupin Presents New Work by Catherine Opie 

Spread the love

Acclaimed photographer and CalArts alum Catherine Opie (Art MFA 88) directs her focus toward the history and architecture of Vatican City in Walls, Windows and Blood, an exhibition of new work running through Saturday, March 9 at Lehmann Maupin in New York City.

Opie’s newest collection of photographs explores power systems and structures within the Vatican, raising questions about the Roman Catholic Church’s legacy and its contemporary impact. The images were taken in the summer of 2021, while Opie was the Robert Mapplethorpe Resident in Photography at the American Academy in Rome. Pandemic access restrictions provided the artist with an unprecedented level of freedom to document both Vatican City and the Vatican Museum.

Opie’s Walls are 7-foot-high large-scale works installed on handcrafted Italian marble pedestals designed by American Academy Architecture Fellow Katy Barkan. Found within the images are “themes of inclusion versus exclusion, wall building, and borders, in addition to the more contemporary concern of modern surveillance, signaled by the security cameras that can be seen peeking over the ramparts.”

Windows include a range of views from within the Vatican looking out over the Roman capital, exploring the artist’s ideas about the relationship between transparency and power, and who controls the ability to see or be seen.

The exhibition also features the artist’s Blood Grids, which were derived from photographs Opie took of artwork in the Vatican Museum’s collection that depicted blood. By isolating specific images of violence and conquest, Opie erases their narrative context and reconsiders the way the history of the Catholic Church is told and experienced.

A seminal work from the series is No Apology (June 5, 2021), which features the lone figure of Pope Francis on his papal balcony during his Sunday morning address. This particular message marked the first time the Catholic Church acknowledged, but did not apologize for, the deaths of Indigenous children in Canada who were in the care of boarding schools run by the Church. Designed to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society, these schools highlight the legacy of the Church and its centuries-long drive for power, expansion, and influence.

The LA-based Opie is known for her “powerfully dynamic photography that examines the ideals and norms surrounding the culturally constructed American dream and American identity.” Her work resides in numerous international public and private collections, including the Broad Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, New York Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, and the Tate Modern, among others. Opie’s many awards and fellowships include a Guggenheim Fellowship, Aperture Foundation Award, Smithsonian Archives of American Art Medal, and Women’s Caucus for Art President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement.

CalArts Wild Beast | Image by California Institute of the Arts
PUBLISHED BY Elizabeth McRae

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



24700 is CalArts‘ online space dedicated to sharing news and work of the larger CalArts community from around the world. The news site captures stories of the exploration of new forms and expressions in the arts by our students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Subscribe Now

Get 24700 delivered straight to your inbox.


Your email has been sent