Celebrating Contemporary: Julian Opie's portraits of Blur

  • 15 September 2011

Julian Opie, a British artist known for his digital art, takes centre stage in our next Celebrating Contemporary feature

Julian Opie, Alex, bassist; Dave, drummer; Graham, guitarist; Damon, singer, 2000 © Julian Opie courtesy of the Lisson Gallery

Julian Opie, Alex, bassist; Dave, drummer; Graham, guitarist; Damon, singer, 2000

Portraits of the band Blur by Julian Opie, a British artist known for his digital art, takes centre stage in our next Celebrating Contemporary feature…

The work

Opie was commissioned to produce these four portraits for the cover of the album Blur: The Best Of in 2000. Depicting Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree, the images were created digitally from photographs of the band's members.

The images convey the key information about their sitters with the minimum of detail, reducing the subjects to black outlines and block colours. This set of Opie's portraits was bought by the Art Fund in 2001 for the National Portrait Gallery, where it is currently on display.

The artist

Julian Opie studied at Goldsmith's College under Michael Craig-Martin, briefly serving as Craig-Martin's assistant. He first made a name for himself on the British art scene in the 1980s, with his series of painted metal sculptures.

His work is distinguished by his use of computers to create art digitally and his simplifying, 'reductive' approach to depicting his subjects, capturing their appearance with little more than solid black outlines and flat areas of colour. Opie was a trustee of the Tate Gallery between 2001 and 2006.

Did you know?

Opie is currently seeking funding to create an animated work on Hungerford Bridge in London, which would use LEDs to create a crowd of illuminated 3m-tall figures walking over the Thames.

VOTE for Alex, bassist; Dave, drummer; Graham, guitarist; Damon, singer by Julian Opie