Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Young British Artists
Link: Turner Prize History................ click below
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living by Damien Hirst (1991). The iconic work of the YBAs.
Young British Artists or YBAs (also Brit artists and Britart) is the name given to a group of conceptual artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists based in the United Kingdom, most (though not all) of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London. The term Young British Artists is derived from shows of that name staged at the Saatchi Gallery from 1992 onwards, which brought the artists to fame. It has become a historic term, as most of the YBAs are now in their forties. They are noted for "shock tactics", use of throwaway materials and wild-living, and are (or were) associated with the Hoxton area of East London. They achieved considerable media coverage and dominated British art during the 1990s.
Leading artists of the group are Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Key works by them are, respectively, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine, and My Bed, a dishevelled double bed surrounded by detritus.
Main article: Freeze (exhibition)
The core of the later YBAs originated in 1988, at a time when public funding for art was not readily available (and had been reduced by the Thatcher government). A group of 16 Goldsmiths College students took part in an exhibition called Freeze, of which Damien Hirst became the main organiser—as he was still in his second year at the college. Commercial galleries had shown a lack of interest in the project, and it was held in a cheap alternative space, a London Docklands admin block (usually referred to as a warehouse). The event resonated with the 'Acid House' warehouse rave scene prevalent at the time, but did not achieve any major press exposure. One of its effects was to set the example of artist-as-curator (in the mid 1990s artist-run exhibition spaces and galleries became a feature of the London arts scene).
In liaison with Hirst, Carl Freedman (who had been friends with him in Leeds before Hirst moved to London and was helping to make Hirst's vitrines) and Billee Sellman then curated two influential "warehouse" shows in 1990, Modern Medicine and Gambler, in a Bermondsey former factory they designated Building One. To stage Modern Medicine they succeeded in raising £1,000 sponsorships from artworld figures including Charles Saatchi. Freedman has spoken openly about the self-fulfilling prophecy these sponsors helped to create, and also commented that not many people attended these early shows, including Freeze.
Untitled (yellow) (1990), painting by Fiona Rae
Established alternative spaces such as City Racing at the Oval in London and Milch gave many artists their first exposure. There was much embryonic activity in the Hoxton/Shoreditch area of East London focused on Joshua Compston's gallery. In 1991 the Serpentine Gallery presented the first survey of the new generation with the exhibition Broken English in part curated by Hirst. It was not until 1992 that Saatchi staged a series of exhibitions at his gallery and devised the name Young British Art. The first show featured the work of Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Mark Wallinger and Rachel Whiteread.
A second wave of Young British Artists appeared in 1992-3 through exhibitions such as 'New Contemporaries', 'New British Summertime' and 'Minky Manky' (curated by Carl Freedman). This included Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland, Fiona Banner, Tracey Emin, Tacita Dean, Georgina Starr and The Wilson Sisters. The composition of the YBAs at their height is documented in the catalogue for the 1995 British Art Show.
The Saatchi Effect
One of the visitors to Freeze was Charles Saatchi, a major contemporary art collector and co-founder of Saatchi and Saatchi, the London advertising agency. Saatchi then visited Gambler in a green Rolls Royce and, according to Freedman, stood open-mouthed with astonishment in front of (and then bought) Hirst's first major "animal" installation, A Thousand Years, consisting of a large glass case containing maggots and flies feeding off a rotting cow's head. (The installation was later a notable feature of the Sensation exhibition.)
Saatchi became not only Hirst's main collector, but also the main sponsor for other YBAs–a fact openly acknowledged by Gavin Turk. The contemporary art market in London had dramatically collapsed in mid-1990 due to a major economic recession, and many commercial contemporary galleries had gone out of business. Saatchi had until this time collected mostly American and German contemporary art, some by young artists, but most by already established ones.
His collection was publicly exhibited in a series of shows in a large converted factory building in St John's Wood, north London. Previous Saatchi Gallery shows had included such major figures as Warhol, Guston, Alex Katz, Serra, Kiefer, Polke, Richter and many more. Now Saatchi turned his attention to the new breed of Young British Artists. There was much concern when Saatchi divested himself of some of his earlier collection, since it had a significant downward effect on the value of some of the artists whose works he sold.
Saatchi invented the name "Young British Artists" for a series of shows called by it, starting in 1992, when a noted exhibit was Damien Hirst's "shark" (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living). In addition to (and as a direct result of) Saatchi's patronage, the Young British Artists benefited from intense media coverage. This was augmented by controversy surrounding the annual Turner Prize, (one of Britain's few major awards for contemporary artists), which had several of the artists as nominees or winners. Channel 4 had become a sponsor of the competition, leading to television profiles of the artists in prime-time slots.
The Young British Artists re-vitalised (and in some cases spawned) a whole new generation of contemporary commercial galleries such as Karsten Schubert, Sadie Coles, Victoria Miro, Maureen Paley's Interim Art, Jay Jopling's White Cube, and Antony Wilkinson Gallery. The spread of interest improved the market for contemporary British art magazines through increased advertising and circulation. Frieze launched in 1991 embraced the YBAs from the start while established publications such as Art Monthly, Art Review, Modern Painters and Contemporary Art were all re-launched with more focus on emerging British Artists. The British art establishment was solidly validating the pre-eminence of the YBAs. Hirst had become an internationally recognised major artist, with shows in Europe and the USA.
Becoming the Establishment: Sensation
Myra by Marcus Harvey, 1995
Main article: Sensation exhibition
The consolidation of the YBAs' status was in 1997, when the Royal Academy, which has a reputation as a bastion of conservatism, staged a major, definitive exhibition of their work, Sensation. This was actually a showing of Charles Saatchi's private collection of their work, and he owned the major pieces. The liaison was effected by the Academy's Norman Rosenthal, even though there was strong opposition from some of the Academicians, three of whom resigned. Controversy engendered in the media about the show, particularly over Marcus Harvey's work Myra, served to reinforce the YBAs' importance. When the show toured to New York there was even greater controversy caused by Chris Ofili's work.
My Bed by Tracey Emin
In 1999 Tracey Emin was nominated for the Turner Prize. Her main exhibit, My Bed, consisting literally of her dishevelled, stained bed, surrounded by detritus including condoms, slippers and soiled underwear, created an immediate and lasting media impact and further heightened her prominence. The emergence at the same time of an anti-YBA group, The Stuckists, co-founded by her ex boyfriend, Billy Childish, gave another angle to media coverage.
The opening of Tate Modern in 2000 did not provide any major accolade for the YBAs (initially Hirst was only represented by one piece in a corridor by a toilet), but their inclusion was another affirmation that their status was not open to real questioning. Prospective retrospectives by Hirst were stymied by the fact that Saatchi and not the Tate owned all his important pieces. There were at one time three videos showing by Emin, who subsequently had a room dedicated to her work in Tate Britain: this was on display for a year, before being put in storage.
In Spring 2003 Saatchi opened a new gallery in London, housed in the County Hall building on the South Bank and the previous Saatchi Gallery in St John's Wood was closed. The new Saatchi Gallery initially exhibited the work of the Young British Artists, with a retrospective by Hirst (from which he dissasociated himself) until Charles Saatchi's new interests were demonstrated in a series The Triumph of Painting.
On 24 May 2004, a fire in a storage warehouse destroyed some important works from the Saatchi collection, including the Chapman Brothers' Hell and Tracey Emin's "tent", Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995.
The Young British Artists from an early stage were more socially than aesthetically connected. Sarah Lucas has had relationships with, in turn, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume and Angus Fairhurst. Gillian Wearing had relationships with Mark Wallinger and Michael Landy. Tracey Emin had a relationship with Carl Freedman and then Mat Collishaw. Fiona Rae dated Stephen Park for several years, and then Richard Patterson for a similar duration. Sam Taylor-Wood has dated Gary Hume, Jake Chapman and is currently linked to Jay Jopling. Places where it would be possible to spot YBAs included the Groucho Club, St. John (a restaurant specialising in offal) and (in the early years) pubs around Hoxton, such as the Bricklayer's Arms. Hoxton is known as the heartland of the British contemporary art scene of the time.
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Damien Hirst / Jeff Koons – Artists and managers [Sep 08]
The two most well-known and expensive contemporary artists alive today have other talents in common. They both enjoy exceptionally high media profiles, both elicit controversy, both set their respective auction records in 2008… and both know how to communicate. They also both seem to be "financially aware". September 2008 sees both on centre stage with just five days between the two. The American Jeff Koons, the most expensive living artist at auction today, is currently rubbing shoulders with French royal history having inaugurated his exhibition at the Palace of Versailles (10/09/2008 to 14/12/2008) while the English artist Damien Hirst has caused a mini sensation by selling directly through Sotheby’s…
The subprime crisis, banks on the verge of bankruptcy, Wall Street in the dumps… nothing seems to have bothered the collectors and dealers who participated in the round of highly publicised auction sales this month. On 15 and 16 Sotheby’s London played the role of promoting Damien HIRST's work normally attributed to the prestigious galleries White Cube (London) and Gagosian (New York) by dedicating 2 entire sales sessions to his productions. Short-circuiting his traditional gallery network, Hirst has managed to write a new page in the history of art auctions by demonstrating that the market is capable of digesting pieces that are fresh off the production line, with no other pedigree than Hirst's star-studded signature … and notwithstanding an altogether alarming economic context. Given the context, Hirst exposed himself to a significant risk of market "disinterest". However, the gamble paid off: Sotheby’s generated a total revenue of £70.5m (over $127m) on 15 September and £40.9m the day after, making a fortune for Hirst. By becoming his own manager, the artist has found the process the most profitable way of selling his works.
According to Sotheby’s, the eleven days of pre-sale exhibition drew in some 21,000 visitors. The big sale on 15 September – conducted very much as a show – attracted an eager crowd. Hands were raised at this pagan event where The Golden calf was indeed worshipped… a piece carrying that name generated Hirst's latest auction record when it was hammered down at £9.2 million. More ostentatious than his other installations, the sale of this golden-horned calf in a formaldehyde aquarium set on a marble pedestal with a golden disk above its head had a substantially positive effect on Hirst's price index. His previous auction record generated by Lullaby Spring was £8.6m (June 2007, again, at Sotheby’s).
Like Hirst, Jeff KOONS manages his artistic enterprise with considerable savoir faire! Both employ a hundred assistants, both are supported by heavyweights like the Gagosian Gallery and both reap multi-million-dollar auction results. Jeff Koons' current auction record stands at £11.5m ($22,947,100), generated by his Balloon Flower (Magenta) when it sold at Christie’s in London on 30 June last. But that is not all. Both artists have a strong penchant for independence and both have experience of the art market dating back to the 1980s: when Hirst was a young student in 1988 he set himself up as a champion of self-promotion by orchestrating the Freeze exhibition. He was immediately spotted by the advertising mogul, art collector and dealer Charles Saatchi who subsequently launched the Young Bristish Artists in 1997. At the same epoch the somewhat older Jeff Koons was a Wall Street trader. Having launched himself as an artist, he also enjoyed the support of a high-flying sponsor: François Pinault.
Today both artists are so famous that the roles appear to have been reversed: Koons is called in to "dust off" the cultural heritage of Versailles… and a deal is struck with Hirst that has the effect of revitalising the "secondary market".
Events of the week / Évènements de la semaine
In order to be established in the second most visited International Art Fair among Europeans, Fiart Valencia joins the calendar of international art fairs, with the argument of being integrated in Habitat Valencia, multidisciplinary Fair developed in one hundred thousand square meters of exhibition, where eight hundred exhibitors and eighty thousand professional visitors arrived from the five Continents, exhibit and contract all the related one to the habitat.
October 3-8, 2008 The Park Avenue Armory Park Avenue at 67th Street, New York, NY 10065
This international fair presents the cream of specialists in 20th century and contemporary furniture, sculpture, jewellery, photography, painting, carpets and textiles, ceramics, glass.
Far Eastern art and objects and other areas of design from 1900-2008. Major movements that have fashioned recent aesthetics are represented with pieces on offer from the turn of the 20th century to the beginning of the 21st.Established 1999.
The International Art + Design Fair
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"Honte à vous" / "Shame on you" le nouveau livre de la Demeure du Chaos
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