Julian Opie

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Julian Opie
Born 1958 (age 57–58) 19 July
Education Goldsmith's School of Art[1]
Known for Painting

Julian Opie (/ˈpi/; born 1958[2]) is a visual artist, and one of the New British Sculpture movement.

Early life and education[edit]

Julian Opie LED Artwork in Dublin, Ireland, 2008
Julian Opie Reclining nude at Gateshead Millennium Bridge

Opie was born in London in 1958 and raised in Oxford. He graduated in 1982 from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was taught by conceptual artist and painter Michael Craig-Martin.


Opie emerged as an influential figure in the British art scene of the 1980s after producing a series of painted metal sculptures that humorously combined loosely painted imagery with steel shapes.[3] Portraits and animated walking figures, rendered with minimal detail in black line drawing, are hallmarks of the artist’s style.[4] His themes have been described as "engagement with art history, use of new technology, obsession with the human body" and "work with one idea across different media".[5] 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?"[6]

In 2010, the four-sided LED sculpture Ann Dancing was installed in Indianapolis, as the first artwork on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.[7]

Opie has also created a monument to singer Bryan Adams.[8] In 2010, he was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to create a portrait of the inventor and engineer Sir James Dyson, titled James, Inventor.[9]

Opie has a number of public installations around the world. They include Promenade (2012), a permanent installation in Calgary, and a series of glass panels commissioned by St Mary's Hospital, London. Three sculptures from his Caterina dancing naked series were displayed in Great St Helen’s Square, London as part of the Great St Helen's Sculpture Space.


Opie's graphic portrait style and his use of computer aided design has enabled him to move between the fields of contemporary art and commercial design: in 2000, he was commissioned to design an album cover for British pop band Blur, and in 2006, he created an LED projection for U2's Vertigo world tour.[10]


Julian Opie has exhibited nationally and internationally at major institutions and galleries. Solo exhibitions have included the Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai (2012), the Lisson Gallery in Milan (2011); Institut Valencià d' Art Modern in Valencia (2010), Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna (2008), City Hall Park (Public Art Fund) in New York (2004), and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich (1999). His work was included in group shows at City Public Art Space in London (2012); Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, Germany (2011–2012), the Barbican in London (2011), and the Shanghai Expo in China (2010).[11] He currently has an exhibition in The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, which displays his contemporary portraits and LED art work.


Six of Opie's portraits are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London: four portraits of the band members of Blur executed in colour print on paper, one of inventor and engineer Sir James Dyson rendered by inkjet on canvas, and a self-portrait, Julian with t-shirt, executed on an LCD screen with computer software.[12] More than two dozen of Opie's portraits, landscapes, and other works are in the collection of the Tate [13] and six works are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.[14]


Opie has been awarded several prizes including Music Week CADS, Best Illustration for Best of Blur. In 1995 he was awarded the Sargent Fellowship at the British School in Rome.[15]


External links[edit]