Celebrated New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos was born in 1951 in Pittsburgh. After graduating from Bowdoin College with a Bachelor of Arts degree he pursued the life of a modern-day itinerate artist, traveling throughout the South while capturing its unexpected, everyday exotica in his paintings. He eventually settled in New Orleans, drawn to the city that would become his muse. He studied fine art at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art and at the University of New Orleans. He began painting en plein air in the French Quarter, working in oil on canvas, and became known for his energetically distorted interpretations of vernacular New Orleans buildings. His paintings capture the life, movement and personality of his subjects. His has a uniquely musical, energetic style–full of color and broad brushstrokes. He lays paint on thickly, sculpting the paint with a palette knife until his subject emerges. “My style is an abstraction of the figurative. I like color, volumetric shape and graphic lines. While one may recognize the subject of my painting, through my work one discovers the spirit of it.”
Although he remains inspired by the duality of beauty and decay that is the heart of New Orleans, Michalopoulos’ recent canvases also capture the human form – both in portraiture and social scenes, abstracted landscapes–mostly of the woods and fields surrounding his home in France, and occasionally animals that have managed to catch both his eye and imagination.
His work has been shown extensively in the U.S. and abroad, including: France, England, Germany, Switzerland and Holland. He has been named Official Artist of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival six times, with his work appearing each time on the coveted poster, an unprecedented, and–to date–unmatched honor. Gambit Weekly has declared him “Best Artist of the Year” eight times. His work has been collected by such distinguished figures as: Jackson Browne, John Goodman, Linda Hamilton, Bonnie Raitt, Sharon Stone, Aaron Neville, Emmylou Harris and Bruce Willis.
Public and corporate collections include: the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Governor’s Mansion of Louisiana, Universal Studios, the New Orleans Museum of Art, Chevrolet Motor Corporation, the Chrysler Corporation and Northwest Airlines, among others.