Artist

Jenny Saville

Born in Cambridge, 1970

Jenny Saville, portrait.
Jenny Saville, portrait.

Born in 1970 in Cambridge, England, Saville attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1992, spending a term at the University of Cincinnati in 1991. Her studies focused her interest in “imperfections” of flesh, with all of its societal implications and taboos. Saville had been captivated with these details since she was a child; she has spoken of seeing the work of Titian and Tintoretto on trips with her uncle, and of observing the way that her piano teacher’s two breasts—squished together in her shirt—became one large mass. While on a fellowship in Connecticut in 1994, Saville was able to observe a New York City plastic surgeon at work. Studying the reconstruction of human flesh was formative in her perception of the body—its resilience, as well as its fragility. Her time with the surgeon fueled her examination into the seemingly infinite ways that flesh is transformed and disfigured. She explored medical pathologies; viewed cadavers in the morgue; examined animals and meat; studied classical and Renaissance sculpture; and observed intertwined couples, mothers with their children, individuals whose bodies challenge gender dichotomies, and more.

A member of the Young British Artists (YBAs), the loose group of painters and sculptors who came to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Saville reinvigorated contemporary figurative painting by challenging the limits of the genre and raising questions about society’s perception of the body and its potential. Though forward-looking, her work reveals a deep awareness, both intellectual and sensory, of how the body has been represented over time and across cultures—from antique and Hindu sculpture to Renaissance drawing and painting, to the work of modern artists such as Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning, and Pablo Picasso. In the striking faces, jumbled limbs, and tumbling folds of her paintings, one may perceive echoes of Titian’s “Venus of Urbino” (c. 1532), Rubens’s Christ in the “Descent from the Cross” (1612–14), “Manet’s Olympia” (1863), and faces and bodies culled from magazines and tabloid newspapers. Saville’s paintings refuse to fit smoothly into a historical arc; instead, each body comes forward, autonomous, voluminous, and always refusing to hide.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Jenny Saville
Jenny Saville takes over the city of Florence with a project articulated in some of the most important historical building and museums in Florence, such as Museo Novecento, Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Museo degli Innocenti and Museo di Casa Buonarroti.
30 Sep 2021 - 27 Feb 2022
Museo Novecento Firenze
Florence
Art Spaces
Gagosian London Grosvenor Hill
Galleries in London
Gagosian Geneva
Galleries in Geneva
Gagosian Gallery Hong Kong
Galleries in Hong Kong
Gagosian London Davies Street
Galleries in London
Gagosian London Britannia Street
Galleries in London
My Art Guides Art Spaces’ Dashboard
Update your art space’s profile with all current and upcoming shows and keep yourselves on the map