The picture of Julian Opie

When I wandered through the seemingly endless halls of the National Portrait Gallery in London, I suddenly stood in front of my favourite contemporary artist: Julian Opie.

People were flooding into the room, walking past me, bumping into me, but I wasn’t able to move as my eyes were fixed on him.

There he was, blinking, breathing, with a serious, waiting look on his face – ‘Julian with a T-Shirt’.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t him in person, but almost.

On a 1102 mm x 658 mm screen an endless loop is running that evokes the impression of Julian Opie really standing there, endlessly patient. (You can also see the moving picture on his website.)

Selfportrait 'Julian with T-Shirt', by Julian Opie

By now the picture cannot longer be seen in the National Portrait Gallery – unfortunately it has been replaced.

I first ever saw Julian Opie’s art on the cover of a book. “Starter for ten” (“Keine weiteren Fragen”) by David Nicholls – a very good book, by the way. (It also is a movie now.)

On the first glance, the images may have a lot in common with stick men. They display features in a very minimalistic way. But this is why they work so well.

They strip every person to the core features.

An album-cover of the British band 'Blur', by Julian Opie

By sticking to those features, the portraits make a person’s nature visible.

Have a go at turning yourself into an Opie-portrait. (Send them to and I’ll put them on the blog.)

Or you can try out the Julian Opie technique on yourself in a more professional way. Here you find a Photoshop tutorial to turn any picture into an Opie-piece-of-art.

Here is my best attempt:

Not quite the Mona Lisa, but Opieish anyways

But the moving and breathing Julian in the Portrait Gallery is also a little creepy. Because there he is – a statue of Nelson Mandela and a painting of the Princes of Wales next two him – all of them forever frozen in time. He, on the other hand, will be ‘living’ in this frame forever – just like Dorian Gray.

Click here to find a (rather pricy) professional way of getting your own picture ‘opiefied’.

Read here about Opie’s outdoor exhibition in Indianapolis.


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3 Responses to The picture of Julian Opie

  1. Love it.
    What an interesting concept.

  2. zahin says:

    awesome !!!!! … 😀

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