The Surprising Inspirations of Julian Opie and Andy Warhol

Every work of art begins with a spark of inspiration. That spark often appears in unexpected forms. Discovering what has inspired our favorite artists is often surprising and can offer insight and better understanding of how and why an artist works in a particular style.


Julian Opie 1958 –

The influence of Michael Craig-Martin, one of Julian Opie’s instructors at London’s Goldsmiths School of Art, is apparent. Craig-Martin’s style, like Opie’s is minimal, but other influences are not so apparent.


In a recent interview in The Art Newspaper, Opie said that he is influenced by Japanese woodcuts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the works of twentieth century Austrian painter, Egon Schiele. He also listens to some pretty esoteric music and uses it to enhance some of his artwork.


His passion for Raymond Carver’s short stories, and the influence they have on him, is a bit of a surprise, but make sense when he explains how they affect him. “They feel like memories,” he said, “like a moment where he’s left a hotel room and notices someone in the hall. That would be the entire short story. But somehow through the way he tells it, he evokes this sense of reality and presence. And it’s that kind of feeling that I want to get to, rather than any sense of inventing a character and bringing that person to life. I have no ability to do that whatsoever, I can only really draw what I see.”


Julian Opie’s work is currently on display at the Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery in London, the Plaza del Colegio del Patriarca in Valencia, Spain and an upcoming exhibition at the Cristea Roberts Gallery in London from September 17 through October 23, 2021.


Andy Warhol 1928 – 1987

Andy Warhol found inspiration at the New York Public Library. He was notably inspired by fame…famous people, famous products…and his religious beliefs…and also found great ideas in the library’s Picture Collection.


The Picture Collection, which has been around since 1915, consists of more than a million loose photos and printed images, placed in alphabetized folders. Anyone with a library card can check them out, the same way they can check out a book.


Many famous artists used the Collection, including Diego Rivera, Dorothea Lange and Joseph Cornell, but Andy Warhol was probably the most famous and most frequent visitor.


Photographer Arnold Hinton, who worked in the library in the mid fifties and sixties, organizing the Photo Collection, told The New Yorker that he remembers Andy Warhol going through the collection, taking photos and not returning them.


Warhol liked to take his own photos, and many of his Polaroid pictures are historic records of the New York art scene of the mid twentieth century, but his best-known work was done from the photos taken by others…some probably “borrowed” from the New York Public Library.


Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Julian Opie or Andy Warhol available at VFA.

July 27, 2021
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