From the Catalogue: Julian Opie

Koller Auctions
Jun 17, 2016 10:01PM

Julian Opie was born in 1958 in London where he studied at Goldsmiths College from 1979 to 1982. Having completed his studies, in 1983 he began to shape and combine various geometric, colourful figures out of sheet steel. In the same year his first exhibition was held in the Lisson Gallery, London. The steel objects were also widely acclaimed at documenta 8 in 1984. Numerous exhibitions followed in renowned galleries and museums, such as the Biennale in Venice 1993 and the Tate Britain in 2000. 

In 1997 he began his now famous portrait series with reduced facial expressions within black contour lines, which manage to retain the person‘s characteristic features despite these being kept to a minimum. He later combined these minimalist figures with animation, showing moving figures on large screens and displays, or as giant LED works of art. 

Opie‘s interest in shadows and silhouettes inspired the present multiples, and Cornwall inspired the choice of motifs. With their unmistakable, thick black lines the cut-outs are like silhouettes on the wall. The boat, the sheep and the pebbles appear to move silently across the wall, the pebbles also being moved by the tide, constantly forming new constellations. Opie himself writes of the boat, “I wanted to make the print like a wall drawing that could turn the wall into water—that could bend the wall back into the surface of the sea. By cutting the drawing out of sheet steel and hanging it from hidden fixings it can almost be part of the wall turning the whole wall into the print“ (Julian Opie: Alan Cristea Gallery, artist‘s website:

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