5 Year Print Market Review 2023

Street

The Street collection captures Julian Opie's preference for depicting ordinary people, unknown by the viewer, as opposed to finding ‘iconic’ subjects who are instantly recognisable. Speaking about his representation of the everyday, Opie explains: “mundane things are just as exciting as all the things you might imagine escaping into”.

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Meaning & Analysis

Produced in 2019, Julian Opie’s Street collection captures the essence of the artist’s distinct visual style and language. The collection is formed of six signed relief prints, all of which come in an edition size of 50. Each print in the collection shows a composition of four people captured mid-stride, walking across the composition.

Opie’s graphic style shines through in these prints. The figures are rendered using thick lines filled with blocks of the same colour. Each figure in the print is delineated in a different colour, and the four figures are all set against a plain, brightly coloured backdrop. Opie’s use of vibrant and bold colours in these prints resonate strongly with art from the Pop Art movement and the work of artists like Andy Warhol. Opie’s style is often compared to Warhol, especially due to the way Opie challenges what should be considered a suitable subject for fine art, as Warhol did in the 1960s by producing artworks of everyday consumer goods.

Like his predecessor, Warhol, Opie wanted to produce art inspired by everyday life. While Warhol was also deeply interested in celebrity culture and stardom, and often produced portraits of notable icons, Opie preferred to produce artworks of everyday, unknown people. The subjects of his prints in the Street collection are all ordinary people, captured doing one of the most banal acts, walking from one place to another. The figures in the print are all faceless and have their faces replaced by circles which seem to hover above their shoulders. Opie’s artistic style is characterised by his use of simplified shapes and thick outlines filled with blocks of flat colour. Void of any facial detail, a signature element of Opie’s visual language, the artist differentiates the figures he draws by giving each person a different haircut, outfit and distinct gait.