Jenny Saville – Figuration & Perception
Jenny Saville was born in Cambridge in 1970. Her monumental self-portraits and paintings of fleshy women embrace the grotesque, and counter the male gaze that has dominated centuries of art history. She attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1992. Her studies focused her interest in “imperfections” of flesh, with all of its societal implications and taboos. She takes inspiration in part from the portraiture of Peter Paul Rubens, from Cubism and Abstract Expressionism.
In the early ’90s Saville became associated with the loose generational cohort known as the Young British Artists (YBAs). She showed in the Royal Academy of Arts’s famed “Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection” exhibition in 1997 alongside fellow iconoclasts Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas.
Jenny Saville challenges the limits of the contemporary painting, and raises questions about society’s perception of the body and its potential. She has exhibited in New York, Paris, London, Copenhagen, and many other cities. Her work belongs to The Broad, the George Economou Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Norton Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among other institutions. In 2018, Saville’s Propped (1992) sold for $12.4 million and set a record for the most expensive work by a living female artist to sell at auction.
“As Saville pushes, smears, and scrapes the pigment over her large-scale canvases, the distinctions between living, breathing bodies and their painted representations begin to collapse.” – from Saville’s bio on Gagosian.
Human perception of the body is so acute and knowledgeable that the smallest hint of a body can trigger recognition.
See Jenny Saville’s profile on Gagosian Gallery website here.