A trailblazer of the New British Sculpture movement in the 80s, Julian Opie fuses Pop Art and sculptural minimalism. If you’re looking for original Julian Opie prints and editions for sale or would like to sell, request a complimentary valuation and browse our network’s most in-demand works.
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The highly stylised blend of Pop Art and minimalism of British artist Julian Opie’s art has made him a key player in British contemporary art and a trailblazer in the New British Sculpture movement. The minimal style of his digital artworks is synonymous with the ‘Cool Britannia’ scene of the 1990s and 2000s. Today, Opie’s history of works includes paintings, prints, sculptures, LED lights and more.
An early biography about Opie sees him live an ordinary childhood, despite his economist father making regular appearances on BBC’s The Money Show. Born in London in 1958, Julian Opie grew up in Oxford, where he became fascinated with art and antiquities in the Ashmolean Museum. He soon discovered his love for drawing and making art, seeing his practice as 'a diary, a way of dealing with the world. Otherwise, I feel you’re locked here, behind your eyes.'
Opie’s subject matter ranges from the average unsuspecting civilian to Hollywood celebrities and touches on portraiture, images of landscapes, cityscapes and even wildlife images. Opie’s art explores these subjects through his instantly recognisable reductive approach. His images of people, for instance, are as much influenced by traditional portraits as they are by the universality of toilet signs.
The success of Opie’s work on the 2000 album cover for English rock band Blur propelled him to international fame. Opie’s works later expanded to create portraits of very prominent figures and patrons, including inventor James Dyson, Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve and rock star Bryan Adams.
Out of all his works, however, it is his walking figures have become one of his most famous works and a central motif. In particular, Opie’s iconic Walking Figures sculptures have become a sensation and were exhibited at the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisberg, Germany. Another notable series from Opie’s artworks is his 2005 This is Shahnoza, where the pole dancer Shahnoza takes centre stage. Using his iconic motif, he transforms Shahnoza into nine monumental works portraying the dancer in various poses. Opie’s work was featured in the 2008 exhibition This is Shahnoza in 3 Parts at Alan Cristea Gallery.
Walking in Sadang-dong in the rain © Julian Opie 2014
Opie has often used pedestrians as his models, and Walking in Sadang-Dong in the Rain is a perfect example of why. The crowded composition is offset by the fact that these people don’t seem to look at or even acknowledge each other - they allow for the artist to stare and visually record without any performativity. We can also see here Opie’s working technique, which involves simplifying photographs into their most basic elements, while retaining a level of individuality in each figure - just as we see in the different outfits and umbrellas held by the people here. Sold for £160,750 at the Seoul auction on March 23rd 2021, this painting epitomises Opie’s fascination with the balance between individuality and universality.
Woman Posing In Underwear. 1 © Julian Opie 2003
Depicted in paintings, sculpture, prints and moving LED lights, Opie’s artworks of nudes and women undressing are among his most frequent themes. It is also the most popular subject with his collectors: Woman Posing In Underwear 1 stands as the most expensive work by Opie at auction. When it was offered at Christie’s in New York on 1 March 2018, it achieved over four times its high estimate. Previously owned by a California-based collector, the painting is also a rare example of Opie’s artwork offered outside of the UK – all his other top prices at auction were achieved in London sales – which suggests the artist’s growing international appeal and market.
Image © Sotheby's / Walking In London In The Rain © Julian Opie 2013
A familiar sight for those dwelling in London, Opie's Walking In London In The Rain captures a view of a typical day in the rainy metropolis. A veritable rainbow of saturated colours pervades this painting, which excels in depicting a vastly different city and people to that of his Walking In Sadang-Dong In The Rain.
From 7 until 14 June 2022, Walking In London In The Rain was sold for £157,227 at the Modern & Contemporary Auction at Sotheby's, Switzerland.
Paisley Dress And Red Gown © Julian Opie 2015