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Exhibition of contemporary British art held at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1997. It included work by, among others, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, and Rachel Whiteread, members of the loose-knit group sometimes identified as Young British Artists. The exhibits all came from the collection of Charles Saatchi. Great controversy was generated in the press by the provocative nature of what was on display, although the influence of one single collector was also an issue. Marcus Harvey's portrait of the child killer Myra Hindley was a particular target, although the issue was as much a moral one about the hurt to the families of the victims as the usual ‘modern art outrage’. Four Royal Academicians resigned in protest. One of these, Michael Sandle, who would not normally be identified as one of the Academy's more conservative members, told an interviewer later ‘I felt we were dealing with a tsunami of rubbish, art as part of the fashion industry’ (RA Magazine, August 2007). When the exhibition travelled to New York to be seen at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999 the controversy shifted to Chris Ofili's Holy Virgin Mary because of its conjunction of elephant dung with religious imagery. New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, who described the work as ‘sick stuff’, threatened to cut off the museum's public funding if the show went ahead. The funding was restored only after a legal battle. A man who smeared Ofili's picture with white paint was fined $250 and ordered by the judge not ‘to enter the museum with paint brush in hand’.

Subjects: Art.

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