Known for his digital artworks and minimal style, British artist Julian Opie is constantly challenging traditional approaches to portraiture. Inspired by Pop Art as well as the visual language of modern life, Opie, who lives and works in London, has become one of the most successful and well known artists of the New British Sculpture movement. Opie’s process – which he applies to landscapes, still lifes and cityscapes as well as people – involves taking photographs or short films and reducing them to pure surface and line in order to question how images are perceived and understood by the viewer.

Inspiration

Opie’s simplified forms are immediately recognisable for their thick black lines which are filled with solid, flat colour, in what could be read as an homage to both Minimalism and Pop Art. Opie draws particular influence from Roy Lichtenstein’s cartoon and comic book imagery as well as Andy Warhol’s commercialised style of portraiture and Patrick Caulfield’s bold outlined style. Opie also takes inspiration from sources as varied as billboards, classical portraiture, Japanese woodblock prints, Tintin, Egyptian hieroglyphs and road signs; turning to a vast array of media and technologies to connect the visual language of modern life with art history. His chosen medium often reflects this approach, marrying tradition with technology in the form of paintings, prints, LED displays and digital video.

Portraits

In 1983 Opie graduated from Goldsmiths where he studied under the conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin, whose ideas around representation and semiotics have heavily influenced Opie’s own approach to art. Opie explores these interests through a reductive approach to image-making, famously exemplified by his images of people which are largely influenced by the history of portraiture as well as the universality of toilet signs.

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Julian Opie Artist Portrait Photography
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