Whether it’s a portrait or a landscape, Julian Opie strips things down to their bare essentials. Born in London in 1958 and raised in Oxford, Opie was one of the Young British Artists (YBA) who graduated from Goldsmith’s, University of London.
In a 2014 LOOK magazine interview, Opie likened his pared down perspective to viewing the world through the windows of a moving train. “… you can become aware of the world outside the train, the landscape, as a sliding, flowing terrain; the world as a whole. It is simplified because you cannot focus on a car number plate or a bird on a wire, all you can see is the shape of the world, it’s color and your own movement through it and your presence in it.”
I love the way humans create themselves from a pretty limited range of attributes and although each one seems to be a type they are also always different. Finding a way to depict this duality is central to the way I draw and think.” —Julian Opie
Opie says that he drew inspiration from the 19th century French portrait artist, August Edouart and from the Belgian cartoonist, Hergé. Edouart created deceptively simple portraits by cutting black paper with scissors. His works are on display in London’s National Portrait Gallery … as are Opie’s.
Hergé created the cartoon series, Adventures of Tintin, in 1929. His reduction of features, use of black outline and his ability to create a sense of movement in his figures, had a profound influence on Opie’s work.
As a 21st century artist, Opie has the advantage of using computer and LED technology to enhance his art. His works are installed in cities around the world, including Manhattan and Indianapolis.
We have several works by Julian Opie in our gallery that demonstrate his ability to capture the essence of his subjects with skillful lines and minimal detail. “What interests me,” Opie says, “is the way the world looks and the way people present themselves. When I draw people I use their clothes and accessories as much as their bodies and looks to depict them and make them seem real. I love the way humans create themselves from a pretty limited range of attributes and although each one seems to be a type they are also always different. Finding a way to depict this duality is central to the way I draw and think.”
Opie’s portraits have a universal appeal. His work is part of the permanent collections in the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, MoMA and other galleries around the world. We invite you to visit Vertu to view the work of Julian Opie and the other great artists we are pleased to offer.