'I'm not sure what art is'

June 13 2011

Image of 'I'm not sure what art is'

Picture: Alan Cristea Gallery

I've always been a great admirer of Julian Opie's work. He is one of relatively few contemporary artists to embrace art history, and yet not be defined by it. Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to get to know him a little.

There's a good interview with him in The Guardian, in which he talks about art in his typically honest approach. The discussion moves to Opie's interest in silhouettes, which are part of his new exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery (closes 9th July):

We move to some silhouettes he made of himself. Before photography, silhouette profiles, cut from black card, were the cheapest way of recording a person's appearance. "It's a purportedly obsolete and vulgar art form. It surprises me that I care about it. I used to have a stricter idea of what art was. Now I feel much less sure. I'm not really sure what art is."

Its refreshing to see a contemporary artist discussing art in normal English and with candour. I recently had to read Damien Hirst's musings in On the Way to Work, but parts of it I simply couldn't understand. In fact, I challenge anyone to read that book, and not get a headache. 

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