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Julian Opie is a world-renowned sculptor and digital artist associated with the New British Sculpture movement. He is best known for employing modern mediums including computer-aided design, LED installations and LCD screens, and having works commissioned by the likes of Blur and U2.
“It’s a precise and graphic artistic language of reduction… His minimalist aesthetic provides a powerful catalyst for a true experience of our own inner realities – an escape from the artifice of reality we are faced with on a daily basis.” – Dazed
Julian Opie art shows style in simplicity
Art by Julian Opie is instantly recognisable thanks to his fragmented comic book style. The artist produces landscapes and portraits defined by simple schematic lines and blocks of colour. Animated figures are a hallmark of his work, drawn with simple black outlines and dots for eyes.
Opie takes inspiration from classical portraiture, Japanese woodblock prints, Egyptian hieroglyphs, public signage and Pop Art aesthetics, particularly the work of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
“When you make an image, a lot of what’s going on there is to do with what people bring to it. Some people often talk about my portraiture being pared-down but I don’t quite see it that way… I found that painting a face, in a certain sense quite blank, allows for one’s visual, mental process to fill it in.”
“Over the years, I’ve managed to get to a point where I think I can include a representation of the human by borrowing from other representations of humans, all representations of humans, all the representations that make up my image of humans, which is formed from my own experience… all of those things that build your idea of what a human is.”
Julian Opie and New British Sculpture
Born in London in 1958, Opie studied at Goldsmith’s School of Art, where he was taught by conceptual artist and painter Michael Craig-Martin. Following his studies, he began to exhibit with artists including Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon and Anish Kapoor, gathered around the Lisson Gallery. The group’s work became known as New British Sculpture, a humorous synthesis of pop and kitsch which features objects and waste from the urban environment.
Julian Opie became an influential name in the 1980s British art scene following his early success with ‘A Pile of Old Masters’. This gallery exhibit reimagined classic artworks in a challenge to the ‘spectre’ of art history and the current modernist pop aesthetic.
Using technology as artistic mediums
Julian Opie’s early works focused on steel architectural forms, and these were followed later by abstract structures in wood and Perspex. However, Julian Opie has since embraced a whole new range of media, including graphic and digital art.
“In the 90s the computer was providing a rapidly growing public language that was fresh and new, and kind of thrilling. I was seeing shop windows in Tottenham Court Road with all the computer screens with screensavers on them, and it was a real shock to seeing a moving, three-dimensional image that was a drawing. It simply hadn’t been possible. It was an utterly new way of looking at things and yet, it obviously came from somewhere – it reminded you of Bauhaus drawing and Russian constructivism but it was still entirely new.”
“…mimicking the computer look was a lot easier by simply using a computer. So I kind of taught myself vector drawing… it’s a constructive Lego-type system of drawing.”
The artist has adopted hypermodern mediums, using techniques such as inkjet printing, LCD projections and animations and LED lighting. Most memorably, he has produced several continuous animations on LCD screens, displayed in public locations around the globe.
“Everything you see is a trick of the light… Light bouncing into your eye, light casting shadows, creating depth, shapes, colours. Turn off the light and it’s all gone. We use vision as a means of survival and it’s essential to take it for granted in order to function, but awareness allows us to look at looking, and by extension look at ourselves and be aware of our presence.”
Why invest in Julian Opie
Julian Opie art has been exhibited at major institutions in London, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. His work can also be seen around the world, from the National Museum of Art in Osaka to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The artist has also created a number of public installations, including Promenade (2012), a permanent installation in Calgary, the four-sided LED sculpture Ann Dancing (2010) in Indianapolis and a series of glass panels commissioned by St Mary’s Hospital in London.
Opie’s adoption of computer aided design techniques opened doors for other projects too. His album cover for British pop band Blur in 2000, featuring four portraits of the band members in colour print on paper, won the prize of Music Week CADS, Best Illustration. He also created an LED projection for U2’s Vertigo world tour in 2006, and designed the ballet Infra for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2008.
With such a long and varied career, and a growing list of celebrity collectors, many individuals wish to buy Julian Opie art as an investment. Here at Maddox Gallery, we are delighted to show some of his works to our visitors. Plan a visit to one of our central London galleries, and one of our Sotheby’s-trained art consultants will be able to help