Young British | British art and a scent of scandal
10-03-06 Seleccionado por: Arty Show
Almost ten years after the Sensation exhibition, the YBAs have achieved a certain maturity that inspires a sense of confidence compared to their somewhat speculative debuts.
Over 40 artists, all collected by Charles Saatchi, participated in the Sensation exhibition. The exhibition was reduced to a voyeuristic experience by elements of the media since the works that were provocative or made use of advertising rhetoric eclipsed the broad diversity of creativity of this young generation (born in the 60s and 70s). Sensation offered a very contrasting collection of works: abstract and figurative, cynical and sympathetic views of the world, body distortions and hybridizations, mixes of old, classical and contemporary art, etc. The competitive spirit surrounding the exhibition has since allowed the public to discover this eclectic spirit and has propelled most of the YBA group onto the international art scene.
In 1988, Damien Hirst, the leader of the YBA group sparked off the movement by organising the Freeze exhibition around the young generation of British artists. In 1997, the "Sensation" exhibition opened in London and then in New York two years later, triggering a whole series of arguments and debates on the provocative nature of the works. The impact on the media of the works exhibited, coupled with the attentive support of the art-collector and advertising mogul, Charles Saatchi, sparked off a period (between 1997 and 1999) of acquisition fever during which Hirst's price index rose 230% ! After a relative absence between 2000 and 2002, Hirst again returned to the artistic limelight with three auction sales above the USD 1 million mark between 2003 and 2005. One of these was an installation entitled The Fragile Truth, an element from the Pharmacy, that sold for USD 1,985,170 at Sotheby’s London in 2004, and another was The Most beautiful thing in the world, a Butterfield painting that last November set a new record for a painting by the artist when it sold for USD 1,150,000 at Sotheby’s NY.
The suggestive installations of prosaic objects presented by Sarah Lucas, the mutant bodies of the Chapman brothers, the exhibitionist mises-en-scène by Tracey Emin or the intriguing sculptures by Marc Quinn all change hands at the major auction houses for an average of between EUR 25,000 and 55,000. These artists offer provocative works, sometimes obscene in the case of the Sensation exhibition, which have eclipsed less sensational works by painters such as Glenn Brown, Gary Hume or Jenny Saville. However, these three artists have since managed to gain a stronger foothold in the public eye and all generated good figures in 2005, exceeding several times the USD 100,000 mark at public auctions. Brown's price index has risen almost tenfold since 2001 whereas that of Jenny Saville, whose works sold for between EUR 250,000 and 530,000 in 2004, is currently losing ground.
Having been somewhat ignored, the work of Rachel Whiteread, who attributes sculptural density to empty spaces, gained significant recognition in 2004 and generated very good figures: an installation composed of 16 elements in resin sold for USD 420,000 at Sotheby’s NY, a record sale that boosted the artists index by 166% in 2005!
Ron Mueck, whose hyper-realist sculptures were recently exhibited at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, is also gaining momentum. Only three of his sculptures have been sold publicly, but the progression is clear: in 1998, Big Baby 2 sold for GBP 36,000 (i.e. close to USD 60,000) at Christie’s in London, while Pinocchio, a smaller piece, fetched USD 460,000 in 2005 at Phillips, De Pury and Company NY.
Since the Sensation exhibition, the aggregate price index of the YBAs has grown 369%. In France, the highest bid during 2005 for a YBA work was EUR 27,000 for the Chapman bothers' Piggy-Back, on June 28 at Artcurial.
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