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YBA's in focus. Jenny Saville - Propped, 1994

🎉 New Series Time Art Lovers 🎉

This time round I’m looking at the notorious group of 90s artists known collectively as the YBAs - Young British Artists.

The YBAs dominated the art scene in the 90s and early 00s through their willingness to shock audiences with their imagery, message and rather varying use of materials which ranged from stuffed tights and fried eggs to Sharks in tanks!

Yip - it was THAT much of a range of materials.

You probably know the house hold names - Hirst, Emin, Lucas and Hume but the ‘group’ collectively saw over 40 artist be placed under the term. Throughout the series, I will be taking a look at some of the more obscure works produced by the YBAs to the more superstar works which have graced almost every art textbook since the mid 2000s!

First up is this absolute BEAUTY by the one, the only - Jenny Saville. It seems only right the

Human perception of the body is so acute and knowledgeable that the smallest hint of a body can trigger recognition.

—Jenny Saville

A contemporary painter, Saville is known for her large scale nude paintings of women.

The one shown is called Propped and was painted in 1992. Here Saville breaks beyond the confines of classical figuration and indeed, abstraction. Her figure sits exposed to the world.

Is she in pain? Ecstesy?

The artist’s thick application of pink paint here is fast. The skin almost appears transformative. Like it is moving of its own accord.

The Sitter? The artist herself!

The message which is carved across the figure read:

"If we continue to speak in this sameness. Speak as men have spoken for centuries, we will fail each other. Again, worlds will pass through our bodies above our heads. Disappear. Make us disappear."

These are the words of the great feminist writer Luce Irigaray.

This work actually made Jenny Saville's name and was first shown by the artist during her degree show at Edinburgh in 1994. It was bought by Charles Saatchi.

Saville in her work responds the the 90s media barrage women faced to have the perfect bodies. Here, Saville wants to reclaim the narrative and celebrate the female form as it is - varied, curvy and unique to every woman.

Jo McLaughlin

March 2021


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