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Young British Artists


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(YBAs)

An imprecise term applied to a number of highly publicized British avant-garde artists active from the 1980s, several of whom are well known for their grubbily glamorous lifestyles as well as for what they create. They do not form an organized group and their work is diverse, but there are ties of friendship linking many of them and they have been supported chiefly by Charles Saatchi: the name derives from a series of exhibitions held at his gallery in 1992–6 (‘Young British Artists I’ to ‘Young British Artists VI’). Their work has also been showcased in several other exhibitions, most notably ‘Sensation’ at the Royal Academy, London, in 1997, which generated a great deal of controversy, including various forms of protest against it. The best-known artists who featured in ‘Sensation’ are Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Rachel Whiteread. Among the others are the brothers Dinos (b 1962) and Jake (b 1966) Chapman, whose work includes figures modelled on bland shop-window dummies but with horrible mutilations or freakish mutations; Gary Hume (b 1962), who paints large figurative pictures characterized by flat, reductive forms; Sarah Lucas (b 1962), whose work often has sexual themes, for example Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab (1992, Saatchi Gal.), in which the foods, arranged on a table, mimic breasts and female genitals; Chris Ofili (b 1968), whose trademark is incorporating elephant dung in his paintings (he hit on the idea whilst in Zimbabwe on a travelling scholarship in 1992); Marc Quinn (b 1964), best known for Self, a three-dimensional self-portrait head made of his own frozen blood, which is displayed in a refrigerated cabinet (first created in 1991 and remade by Quinn at five-yearly intervals; the 2006 version is in the NPG, London); and Jenny Saville (b 1970), who paints huge pictures of mountainously obese nude women.

Subjects: Art.


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