Julian Opie is a contemporary British artist known for his distinctive depictions of figures, portraits, and landscapes. He was born in London in 1958 and raised in the city of Oxford. He attended Magdalen College School, Oxford, from 1972 to 1977 and he graduated in 1982 from Goldsmiths in London. Portraits and animated walking figures, with minimal detail in black line drawing, are hallmarks of the artist’s style. When asked to describe his approach, Opie said “I often feel that trying to make something realistic is the one criterion I can feel fairly sure of. Another one I sometimes use is, would I like to have it in my room? And I occasionally use the idea, if God allowed you to show Him one [portrait] to judge you by, would this really be it?”
The work of Julian Opie is famous throughout the world. With public commissions from New York to Seoul, spending much of his career part of international museum exhibitions. Always exploring different techniques both cutting edge and ancient, Opie reinterprets the vocabulary of everyday life. His reductive style evokes both a visual and spatial experience of the world around us. Drawing influence from classical portraiture, Japanese woodblock prints, aswell as information boards and traffic signs, the artist connects the clean visual language of modern life, with the fundamentals of art history.
Some of Opie’s most notable commissions include the design of an album cover for British pop band Blur in 2000. In 2006, he created an LED projection for U2’s Vertigo world tour, and in 2008 he created a set design for Wayne McGregor’s ballet Infra for the Royal Opera House in London. In 2010, he completed a portrait for the National Portrait Gallery of the inventor and engineer Sir James Dyson, titled James, Inventor.
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