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Jenny Saville (1970)

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  • - Jenny Saville , b. 1970 Rosetta 2 oil on paper mounted on board

  • Jenny Saville (b. 1970)

  • Jenny Saville (b. 1970)

Jenny Saville Biography

(b Cambridge, England, 1970) British figure painter. Jenny Saville began her course of study at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland in 1988. Upon graduating in 1992 with a successful senior show, the young artist's career was off to an explosive start; every painting was sold, including one to British gallery owner and art collector, Charles Saatchi. By the time she was preparing to return to college for post-graduate studies, Saatchi had purchased all of her artworks and commissioned her for the next few years. He offered the artist an 18-month contract, supporting her while she created new works to be exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery in London. Rising quickly to great critical and public recognition in part through Saatchi’s patronage, Saville has been lauded for creating conceptual art through the use of a classical standard -- figure painting. Saville realized further recognition after exhibiting her work in the controversial “Sensation” show at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1997. “Sensation” included fellow Young British Artists (YBA) Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marcus Harvey, Tracey Emin, and Chris Ofili, among others. Although Saville’s chosen method is quite traditional and seemingly outmoded, she has found a way to reinvent figure painting and regain its prominent position in the context of art history. Known primarily for her large-scale paintings of nude women, Saville has also emerged as a major contemporary artist and leading figure of the Young British Artists (YBA). Her blatantly feminist subject matter, of obese and sometimes faceless women with vast bodies, partly originates from a trip to America. It was while studying at Cincinnati University in Ohio, that Saville’s lifelong fascination with the workings of the human body began to affect her artwork. Much of her work features distorted flesh, high caliber brush strokes and patches of oil color, while others reveal the surgeon’s mark of a plastic surgery operation. Saville’s images are a product of her addictive love of painting and strong interest in feminist literature and theory. These texts along with other influences such as Cindy Sherman (a contemporary conceptual photographer), would later play an important role in paintings such as Propped (1992). Her interest in the flesh of the human form was particularly evident in a project where Saville herself was used as the model. She collaborated with photographer Glen Luchford (b. 1968) to created images using a sheet of glass to squash and distort her flesh. These self-portraits were exhibited as photographs (shot from underneath the glass) rather than paintings. Saville’s art, which is frequently compared to contemporary British painter Lucian Freud, has always focused on the human form and how it can be represented. Currently, Jenny Saville lives and works in London, England, where she is a teacher of figure painting at the Slade School of Art.

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