New York Couple 1 is a screen print from Julian Opie’s 2019 New York Couple series that shows two people walking side by side. Set against a plain yellow backdrop, the two figures are depicted in Opie’s trademark graphic style in bold lines, block colours and with circles as heads.
Throughout his career, Opie has produced many images of people walking in the form of static prints, paintings, sculpture, and moving images. Using photographs taken by the artist, each print is then manipulated and reduced to a matter of simplified shapes and signs to represent a figure. Producing anonymous ‘passers-by’ with which to populate his world, Opie’s figures are not devoid of personality thus maintaining a sense of individuality within multiplicity. The figures in New York Couple 1 are defined by their casual clothing, bags that they carry and the woman’s use of her phone and are thus reduced to ‘types’, prompting the viewer to think about how we relate to and resemble one another.
New York Couple 1 is indicative of Opie’s interest in creating dynamic and complex compositions with implied movement by depicting multiple figures in a single frame and frozen in a fleeting moment in time. The movement in this image appears far more realistic than expected, despite the fact that the figure’s form is highly stylised and so Opie presents movement itself as a form of realism.