Watching Suzanne (Back) 4 is a print from Julian Opie’s Watching Suzanne series from 2006. Showing a closely cropped image of a woman’s torso and thighs as viewed from the back, this print is depicted in Opie’s highly recognisable, graphic style. Using black line against a white backdrop, Opie creates the image with simplified shapes and block colour.
This series of prints is representative of Opie’s fascination with both movement and the human body. Reducing the human figure to the minimal elements by which it can be represented, this image is highly abstract. This is indicative of Opie’s desire to create a syntax of signs from the human form, retaining a basic form but including small details that reveal something unique about the model. Opie depicts this unique character by showing the movement of the figure through the entire series.
As a computer-generated image, rendered in such a way that the figure appears more like a sign than an individual, Opie produces a depersonalised portrait of a stereotypically attractive woman. Showing only the model’s torso, thus leaving out her face and other details that may distinguish the figure, Opie anonymises the image and forces the viewer to consider why they find this image so alluring.