Occupation: Painter, Sculptor
Movement: New British Sculpture, Pop Art, Contemporary Art
Famous Artworks
“H,” 1987
“There are hills in the distance ©,” 1996
“You are driving a Volvo,” 1996
“Damon Albarn,” 2000
“Escaped Animals,” 2002
“Ann Dancing,” 2007
Julian Opie is a British painter and sculptor most famous for his portraiture and figurative paintings and, most recently, his LED animations displayed in prominent public locations around the world. Opie’s work is characterized by bold lines, smooth shapes, spare but specific figurative details, and bright colors reminiscent of the Pop Art of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. In 2001, he won the Music Week CADS Best Illustration award for his cover art for the ‘Best of Blur’ album. Opie's currently lives and works in London.
Early Life
Julian Opie was born in London in 1958, though he spent his childhood in Oxford. He spent a year at the Chelsea School of Art before enrolling at Goldsmiths College of Art in London in 1979. He graduated in 1983, having worked closely under the conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin during his time in Goldsmiths, and embarked on a career in art. His most famous work from this period is his series titled “Eat Dirt, Art History” comprising mischievous representations of famous art historical paintings.
The Work
Opie’s first works were mostly sculptures made of metal, forming household appliances, structures of buildings and abstract geometrical forms. “It is Believed Some Dinosaurs Could Run Faster Than a Cheetah,” made in 1991, comprised 11 hollow free-standing boxes positioned to form a cube. Up close the sculpture appears to be a white cube with strips of color showing through gaps between the boxes. From a distance, however, it appears as strips of color punctuated by white. In many ways, it exemplifies one of Opie’s most consistent concerns: the nature of perception.
Similarly, his 1996 series of model cars played again with his viewers' perception through how the painted surface of his sculptures reacted to light, for example, creating the illusion of transparency through the shade and reflective quality of the paint.
New Directions
In the 2000s, Opie’s work took a more literally symbolic direction. His 2003 sculptural work “Escaped Animals,” for example, comprises 13 signs mounted on poles of varying heights representing different animals, ranging from domestic and farm animals to field and woodland creatures. Opie’s use of computer technology also became more talked about as a part of his process. He generally took figures from photographs, stripped them down to their most essential shapes on a computer to generate the forms he needed.
During the 2000s, Opie also began painting portraits. His familiarity with computer technology allowed him to operate as a designer as well, and his most famous work from this time are his portraits of the band Blur. The portraits comprised the album cover for the 'Best of Blur' album, which won Opie the 2001 Music Weeks CADS for Best Illustration. The paintings now exist as part of the collection at the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Opie’s style of painting and the reach that his work now had attracted a great deal of attention, and his work during this time contributed towards a distinct aesthetic for the time. His clean lines, bright colors and minimal detail in some ways can be seen as a translation of his aesthetic values as a sculptor. However, the emphasis on perception in his figurative works is on the specific nature of the details in his work. For example, in his recent “Tourists” series, his figures don’t have any faces. Yet, through the posture of the bodies, details of clothing and accessories, their positioning in space, and the relationships between them create compelling and poignant images of a ubiquitous and transient population.
Public Works
Opie has been commissioned to create public art pieces from the early 1990s onwards. However, his recent commissions have arrived concurrent with his growing interest in LED animations. In 2008, “Ann Dancing” was installed as the first art piece of the Indianapolis Culture Trail. It is a four-screen structure representing a woman made of orange lines dancing endlessly on each screen. The piece was the first of Opie’s LED animations, and his most famous. In 2012, the city of Calgary in Canada installed “Promenade,” another large-scale LED animation representing faceless characters walking in a circle on four screens.
Today, Opie is considered one of the most important figures of the New British Sculpture movement as well as one of the most influential proponents of Pop Art in recent years.
1958  -  Born in London
1978–79  -  Chelsea School of Art, London
1979–82  -  Goldsmith’s College of Art, London
1983  -  First solo exhibition, Lisson Gallery, London
1995  -  Sargent Fellowship, the British School in Rome, Rome
1995–96  -  Resident Artist, Atelier Calder, Saché, France
Lives and works in London
Major Exhibitions
2001  -  Lisson Gallery, London
2002  -  Rebecca Camhi Gallery, Athens
2002  -  Mario Sequeira Gallery, Porto, Portugal
2002  -  Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
2002  -  Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston
2003  -  Galerie Bob Van Orsouw, Zurich
2003  -  K21, Dusseldorf
2003  -  Neues Museum Nurnberg, Nuremberg
2003  -  Alan Cristea Gallery, London
2004  -  Public Art Fund, City Hall Park, New York 
2004  -  Lisson Gallery, London
2004  -  Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm
2004  -  Kunsthandlung H. Krobath & B. Wimmer, Vienna
2004  -  Patrick de Brock Gallery, Knokke, Belgium
2004  -  Barbara Thumm Galerie, Berlin
2004  -  Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 
2005  -  Gallery Mario Sequeira, Braga, Portugal
2005  -  La Chocolateria, Santiago de Compostela, Spain 
2005  -  Scai the Bathhouse, Tokyo
2005  -  Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
2005  -  Gallery MGM, Oslo
2005  -  Gallery Valentina Bonomo, Rome
2006  -  Alan Cristea Gallery, London
2007  -  Museum Kampa, Prague
2007  -  Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin
2007  -  San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego
2007  -  Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston
2007  -  King’s Lynn Art Centre, Norfolk
2007  -  Arts Council of Indianapolis, Indianapolis
2008  -  Lisson Gallery, London
2008  -  Alan Cristea Gallery, London
2008  -  Krobath Wimmer, Vienna
2008  -  Art Tower Mito, Japan
2009  -  Kivik Art Centre, Osterlen, Sweden
2009  -  Valentina Bonomo, Rome
2009  -  Kukje Gallery, Seoul
2009  -  Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai
2009  -  Scai the Bathhouse, Tokyo
2009  -  Patrick De Brock, Knokke, Belgium
2010  -  Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston
2010  -  Mario Sequeira, Braga, Portugal
2010  -  IVAM, Valencia
2010  -  Galerist, Istanbul 
2011  -  Bob van Orsouw, Zurich
2011  -  Krobath, Berlin
2011  -  Alan Cristea Gallery, London
2012  -  Fluegel-Roncak Gallery, Nuremberg
2012  -  Tate Britain, London
2012  -  Sakshi Gallery, New Delhi    
2012  -  Lisson Gallery, London
2013  -  Krobath Gallery, Vienna
2013  -  Great St Helen’s Sculpture Space, London
2013  -  Gerhardsen Gerner, Oslo
2013  -  Alan Cristea Gallery, London
2013  -  Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland, UK
2013  -  Iniva, London
2013  -  Tate Liverpool, Liverpool
2013  -  Patick De Brock, Knokke, Belgium 
2013  -  Compton Verney, Warwickshire
2013  -  Tate Britain, London
Museums / Collections
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, New York 
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Tate Gallery, London
Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, Prato
Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin
Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona 
Books / Publications
“Julian Opie: Portraits” by Daniel Kurjakovic and Codax
“Julian Opie” by Lynne Cooke and others
“Julian Opie: Editions 1984-2011” by Jonathan Watkins
“Julian Opie” by Mary Horlock
“Julian Opie: Recent Works” by Peter Noever

Datebook: ‘Five/Fifty/Five Hundred’ at Lisson Gallery, Milan

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | September 7, 2016

New Editions by Julian Opie at Alan Cristea Gallery, London

By Nicholas Forrest | May 29, 2015

Top 10 Visual Arts Exhibitions in Europe This June

By Rachel Will,Nicholas Forrest | May 29, 2015


Datebook: ‘Five/Fifty/Five Hundred’

By BLOUIN ARTINFO | September 2, 2016

Groupshow “On Surface” at Lehmbruck Museum

By Lisa Contag | July 4, 2016

"Facing History" at the Victoria and Albert Museum

By Rachel Will | August 1, 2015

Julian Opie: 2012 - 2015 at Alan Cristea Gallery

By Nicholas Forrest | May 29, 2015