The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2015 > Julian Opie: Collected Works

Julian Opie: Collected Works

25 October 2014 - 22 February 2015

One of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, Opie exploded onto the British art scene in the 1980s; his easily recognisable style characterised by minimalist line portraits and animated walking figures.


Caterina Dancing 09 (Red), Julian Opie, Silkscreen on Painted Wood, 2010

Throughout his own prolific career Opie has amassed art from the past including 17th and 18th century British portraiture by artists such as Joshua Reynolds and George Romney, together with Egyptian sculpture from the ancient world. This exhibition showcased his own works alongside pieces from his private collection, examining the relationship between the two.


Maria in the Garden, Julian Opie, Inkjet on Canvas with Brass Frame, 2009

Such juxtaposition is revealing in many ways, in particular throwing light on the inspiration for Opie’s practise as an artist, but also in revealing the complexity within the nature of portraiture: what it means, how it is achieved and how it’s changed throughout the history of art.


Christof Willibald Gluck (1714-1787), Studio of Jean Antoine Houdon, Terracotta, 1775

Works in a variety of media were on display including paintings, prints, LEDs and video as well as more recent experiments in mosaic and sculpture, shown together with pieces ranging from an ancient Egyptian funerary mask to an arresting ‘warts and all’ Houdon bust of 18th century composer Cristoph Gluck complete with smallpox scarring. 



Egyptian Funerary Mask, Unknown Artist, Painted Plaster, Late Ptolemaic Period

Opie has exhibited extensively around the world during the past 30 years and now for the first time we have an opportunity to see his work within the context of his collection, offering a fascinating insight into his oeuvre and his collecting instinct. His work also forms part of the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate in London, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMa. He has also completed public commissions in major cities around the globe.


Reed 1, Julian Opie, Paint on Resin (Corian Base), 2012 

The exhibition was organised by the Holburne Museum.

Related Events

Cornelius Johnson’s Portrait of Peter Courthope

11 February 2015, 2.30, £11.00 Adult, £10.00 Concession/ Friend of The Bowes Museum
Join Professor Karen Hearn to learn about one of Julian Opie’s favourite painters, Cornelius Johnson, who portrayed many famous British figures including Charles I.