Opie was born in London in 1958 and raised in the city of Oxford. He attended The Dragon School and then Magdalen College School, Oxford, from 1972 to 1977. He graduated in 1982 from Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was taught by conceptual artist and painter Michael Craig-Martin.
Julian Opie’s artwork is similar to pop-art. Portraits and animated walking figures, rendered with minimal detail in black line drawing, are hallmarks of the artist’s style. His themes have been described as “engagement with art history, use of new technology, obsession with the human body” and “work with one idea across different media”. Similarly, the national art critic of The Australian, Christopher Allen, laments Opie’s “limited repertoire of tricks” and described his work as “slight and ultimately commercial, if not actually kitsch”. When asked to describe his approach, Opie said “I often feel that trying to make something realistic is the one criterion I can feel fairly sure of. Another one I sometimes use is, would I like to have it in my room? And I occasionally use the idea, if God allowed you to show Him one [portrait] to judge you by, would this really be it?”
In 2007, the four-sided LED sculpture Ann Dancing was installed in Indianapolis, United States, as the first artwork on the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Opie has also created a monument to singer Bryan Adams.
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