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Jenny Saville, Torso 2, 2004, oil on canvas, 360 cm × 294 cm, Saatchi Gallery
|Movement||Young British Artists|
Jenny Saville (born 1970 in Cambridge, England) is a contemporary British painter and associated with the Young British Artists. She is known for her large-scale painted depictions of naked women. Saville works and lives in Oxford, England.
Life and career
Saville went to the Lilley and Stone School (now The Grove School Specialist Science College) in Newark, Nottinghamshire, for her secondary education, later gaining her degree at Glasgow School of Art (1988–1992), and was then awarded a six-month scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, where she states that she saw "Lots of big women. Big white flesh in shorts and T-shirts. It was good to see because they had the physicality that I was interested in" - a physicality that she partially credits to Pablo Picasso, an artist that she sees as a painter that made subjects as if "they were solidly there....not fleeting".
Saville studied at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1992 and 1994. At the end of her postgraduate education, the leading British art collector, Charles Saatchi, purchased her senior show. 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 critical and public recognition in part through Saatchi’s patronage, Saville has been noted for creating art through the use of a classical standard—figure painting. Although Saville’s chosen method is traditional, she has found a way to reinvent figure painting and regain its position in the context of art history. Known primarily for her large-scale paintings of nude women, Saville has also emerged as a Young British Artist (YBA). Her feminist subject matter, of obese and sometimes faceless women with vast bodies, partly originates from a trip to America. It was while studying at University of Cincinnati in Ohio that Saville’s 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. In 1994, Saville spent many hours observing plastic surgery operations in New York City.
Saville has dedicated her career to traditional figurative oil painting. Her painterly style has been compared to that of Lucian Freud and Rubens. Her paintings are usually much larger than life size. They are strongly pigmented and give a highly sensual impression of the surface of the skin as well as the mass of the body. She sometimes adds marks onto the body, such as white "target" rings.
Since her debut in 1992, Saville's focus has remained on the female body, slightly deviating into subjects with "floating or indeterminant gender," painting large scale paintings of transgender people. Her published sketches and documents include surgical photographs of liposuction, trauma victims, deformity correction, disease states and transgender patients.
- Branded (1992). Oil painting on a 7' × 6' canvas. In this painting, Saville painted her own face onto an obese female body. The size of the breasts and midsection is very exaggerated. The figure in the painting is holding folds of her skin which she is seemingly showing off.
- Plan (1993). Oil painting on a 9' × 7' canvas. This painting depicts a nude female figure with contour lines marked on her body, much like that of a topographical map. Saville said of this work: "The lines on her body are the marks they make before you have liposuction done to you. They draw these things that look like targets. I like this idea of mapping of the body, not necessarily areas to be cut away, but like geographical contours on a map. I didn't draw on to the body. I wanted the idea of cutting into the paint. Like you would cut into the body. It evokes the idea of surgery. It has lots of connotations."
- Fulcrum (1999). Oil painting on an 8 1/2' × 16' canvas. In this painting, three obese women are piled on a medical trolley. Thin vertical strips of tape have been painted over and then pulled off the canvas, thus creating a sense of geometric measure at odds with the mountainous flesh.
- Hem (1999). Oil painting on a 10' x 7'canvas. This painting depicts a very large nude female with lots of subtle textures implied. The bits of orange showing through the stomach add a glow, while the figure's left side is covered with thick white paint as if by a plaster cast, and her pubic area, painted pink over dark brown, resembles carved painted wood.
- Hybrid (1997). Oil painting on a 7' × 6' canvas. In this painting, the image looks much like patchwork. Different components of four female bodies are incorporated together to create a unique piece.
- Ruben's Flap (1998–1999). Oil painting on a 10' × 8' canvas. This painting depicts Saville herself; she multiplies her body, letting it fill the canvas space as it does in other works, but what is interesting is the fragmentation. Decisive lines divide the body into square planes, and it appears that she is trying to hide the nakedness with the different planes. Saville seems to be struggling to convince herself that the parts of her body are beautiful.
- Matrix (1999). Oil painting on a 7' × 10' canvas. In this painting, Saville depicts a reclining nude figure with female breasts and genitalia, but with a masculine, bearded face. The genitalia are thrust to the foreground, making them much more of a focus in the picture than the gaze. The arms and legs of the figure are only partly seen, the extremities lying outside the boundary of the picture. The whole is painted in fairly naturalistic fleshy tones.
- Saville also created a series of photographs known as Closed Contact (1995–1996). She collaborated with artist Glen Luchford to create a series of C-prints depicting a larger female nude lying on plexiglas. The photos were taken from underneath the glass and depict the female figure very distorted.
Saville's painting Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) appeared on the cover of Manic Street Preachers' third album, The Holy Bible. Stare (2005) was used the cover of the Manic's 2009 album Journal For Plague Lovers. This album cover placed second in a 2009 poll for Best Art Vinyl.
- Cooling Gallery, London, 1993, when Saatchi bought all her works.
- The controversial 'Sensation' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art (1997) suddenly brought Saville's work to the attention of the British public at large.
- In 2002, she collaborated with photographer Glen Luchford to produce huge Polaroids of herself taken from below, lying on a sheet of glass.
- "Continuum", 15 September - 22 October 2011 - Gagosian Gallery, New York City
- Norton’s RAW series – Recognition of Art by Women 15 November 2011 - 4 March 2012 Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach Florida
Notes and references
- "Jenny Saville". Gagosian Gallery. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
- "Jenny Saville Biography". Artbank.com. Retrieved on 5 February 2008.
- Schama, Simon. "Jenny Saville". The Saatchi Gallery, 2005. Retrieved on 6 February 2008.
- "Jenny Saville - Feminism and Self-Portraiture". Art1eproject.wetpaint.com. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- "Gallery of the Work of Jenny Saville". Employees.oneonta.edu. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Smith, Roberta (15 October 1999). "ART IN REVIEW; Jenny Saville". The New York Times.
- "Jenny Saville". ArtForum. 1999.
- "Jenny Saville: Destroyer of False Fetishes (Fine Art Year One. January 2009.) « theshutteredroom". Theshutteredroom.wordpress.com. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Middles, Mick. "Manic Street Preachers". London: Omnibus Press, January 2000. p.136. ISBN 0-7119-7738-0
- Rogers, Georgie & O'Doherty, Lucy. "Supermarkets cover up Manics CD ". BBC News, 2009. Retrieved on 28 June 2009.
- "Best Art Vinyl 2009 Winners". Art Vinyl. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- Detailed biography
- Jenny Saville at Gagosian Gallery
- Saatchi Gallery Additional information on Jenny Saville including artworks, articles, text panels and full biography
- Slade School of Fine Art
-  artfact.com
-  art1eproject.wetpaint.com
-  www.nytimes.com
-  findarticles.com
-  www.norton.org