Julian Opie’s Human Form Masterworks

You need travel no further than the interactive map on Julian Opie’s website to gain proper perspective of this British Contemporary Artist’s worldwide reach. Opie studied at the renowned Goldsmiths, University of London in the early 1980s, where he was a student of artist Michael Craig-Martin − another British master of earthly forms. Like experiencing Craig-Martin work, after being in the presence of the iconic style of Julian Opie, you may find it challenging to view any object without pondering how this intuitive artist might choose to render the core characteristics. Some classify Opie’s style as Pop; others as Realist or Minimalist. Most agree that it proves an intriguing and wonderful niche in the modern world of Contemporary Art.


Upon viewing the new collection of lenticular works from Julian Opie that hang at Vertu Fine Art, the movement forms is brought to life as various angles of view produce multiple versions of each piece. In the artist’s signature style, the works feature human forms paired with just enough detail to be incredibly descriptive and minimalist at the same time. In the case of this collection, each work’s title helps the human mind fill in missing details that complement our senses. The subjects in Nurse, Banker and Student for example tell us something about how we collectively interpret what we see when combined with a bit of occupational knowledge. Understanding the role of these individuals helps us see a certain confidence in the banker’s stride, a contextual understanding of the white shirt on the nurse (perhaps holding a patient chart in hand?) and the casual gait belonging to the student.



Likewise, Julian Opie’s City Walkers steel relief structures provide us with a plethora of inferences drawn from our imagination. Downward gazes at mobile phones, hurried strides and varied postures lead the viewer to discern certain moods and motivations belonging to the work’s subjects. Likewise, the presence of a designer handbag, attaché or portfolio – combined with attire and hairstyle – helps us to discern what role these city walkers may each fill once they reach the destination associated with their commute. Depending on what city the viewer is most familiar, backdrop details are filed in by the mind’s eye as well. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City? Once again, the artist gives us just enough to tell us much and let our imaginations tell us the rest.


On the international stage, Julian Opie’s installations continue to pop up in public spaces around the globe. The artist’s signature-styled figures and portraits often appear as painted murals, sculptures and as moving scenes on LED screens. For Opie, various media appear to be different worlds in which his characters travel, live and play – sometimes alone and sometimes with others. In 2012, Julian Opie completed a commissioned work entitled Promenade – a permanent installation in Calgary, Canada’s East Village. Promenade is a four-sided tower 24 feet high with an LED screen on each side – featuring Opie’s characters striding along. The lack of details on their faces combined with individualized modes of dress, hairstyle and posture tells us just enough to realize that they are like others who populate this downtown area. We know so very much and so very little about them all at once.


If you share our fascination with the work of Julian Opie, visit with us at our Boca Raton gallery and see some of the artist’s most recent works on display. If you’re a collector seeking specific works by the artist, please contact us, as we’re always here to assist.

August 1, 2014
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