Comparison Of Paul Cezanne And Julian Opie

Julian Opie is a British artist born in 1958. He is best known for his pop art portraits with stylized features. “Christine, Receptionist” is one such example of a figurative, stylized portrait that embodies Opie’s use of geometric shapes and the theories of the pop art movement. Opie’s work varies greatly from the typical pieces created in previous artistic eras, including the Post-Impressionist era in which Paul Cezanne, a French artist, lived. As opposed to Julian Opie, Cezanne is best known for his incredibly realistic still lifes and his use of tones to add highlights and shadows. All in all, the aspects and content of Cezanne and Opie’s work varies greatly, but both artists have become well known for their separate styles which will continue to influence future artists for years to come. 

Julian Opie is a British artist best known for his pop art. Born in 1958, he attended the Goldsmiths, University of London after deciding to follow his passion to become an artist and sculptor. Opie would create his work by observing photographs in order to create stylized, figurative portraits of his subjects; in other words, his work is unrealistic, but it is clear that it represents the real-life subject – in this case, the human countenance. He would often replace the facial features with simple, geometric shapes. He primarily used computer software to complete his portraits. While some of Opie’s best-known works are incredibly simplistic, some of his pieces are also more complex and emotional. 

One piece by Opie that exemplifies his use of the figurative and stylized techniques is the portrait “Christine, Receptionist”. In this portrait, the subject’s skin is a single, pale color, and the eyes are small black dots. The nose and mouth, similarly, are both done in black, and it is clear that they have been simplified. The mouth is a plain black line with no defined upper and lower lips. The nose is made up of two black dots, similar to the eyes. The hair is also done in a single color with small, highlighted areas added on the top. The subject’s hair is also created using a simple shape without any elaboration, and individual strands are not shown. I find this piece to be extremely well made and unique from any other work I have previously studied. He created an over-simplified version of the human figure, yet still did justice to the subject’s overall beauty and features. I find it fascinating that he is utilizing an older art form such as portraiture, which existed primarily before photography was invented, and blended it with a modern medium-- computer software, in this case. 

One example of an artist whose style greatly contrasts that of Opie is Paul Cezanne. Cezanne was a French, Post- Impressionist artist best known for his still lifes. Meanwhile, Opie is best known for his figurative portraits. Where the main theme of Opie’s pieces is usually the human figure, Cezanne used his still lifes to focus on the theme of materialistic desires. Both artists did use realistic subject matters in their art; however, Cezanne tended to keep his work realistic, while Opie typically abstracts his subjects, keeping the overall idea of the human figure intact. Moreover, Cezanne usually utilizes countless colors, shades, and tints in order to create forms in his work that are extremely realistic. On the other hand, in most cases, Opie creates his pieces using blocks of color to form a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional subject. 

To conclude, Julian Opie best known for his computer-produced images that focus on stylized and figurative versions of the human face and body. This technique greatly differs from the work of French artist Paul Cezanne, who created several well known still lifes, which can be characterized by their use of variety in tones and shades to produce a realistic image. While their overall styles are strikingly dissimilar, both draw their inspiration from realistic subjects. In both cases, their work is exceptionally thought-provoking, forcing the viewer to search for the deeper theme. As a result, their art and techniques will continue to be viewed by and inspire the next generation of artists for years to come.

09 March 2021
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