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Jenny
Saville

born in 1970
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Jenny Saville (May 7, 1970, Cambridge, UK) is a contemporary English artist, who is famous for her large-scale painted depictions of nude women. In the 21st century society that is obsessed with strict aesthetic canons, the artist has found her way to revive interest in figurative oil painting and realistic depiction of the human body. Jenny Saville’s work demonstrates living nature and dead flesh, it causes delight and disgust. Grotesque portraits of the naked obese women became a sensation at the painting exhibition of the same name, Sensation, in London: in one day, Jenny Saville became a world famous, debated and controversial artist. On 7 October 2018, her Propped self-portrait painting, which Jenny painted during her student days, was auctioned off by Sotheby’s for $ 12.4 million and made the scandalous British woman the most expensive artist alive.

Peculiar features of Jenny Saville's art. The artist’s paintings are always large-scale oil on canvas artworks, which enhances the impression of the image. Thick pigmented paint and sweeping brush strokes create a sculptural effect on the canvas. The deep distorted composition with a decreased perspective highlights and emphasizes skin imperfections and flesh folds. The subjects of the artist’s work are overweight women and men, transgender people, people with special genetic traits, victims of disasters and... fragments of bodies. Jenny Saville’s works are in stark contrast to the paintings of academic painting schools: no fragility, tenderness, beauty — swollen veins, red skin, bruises, cadaveric spots. “I want to be an artist of modern life and modern bodies,” Saville says. Critics highlight the curvaceous forms of Rubens’ subjects, the expressively deformed faces of Willem de Kooning's women and the evocative sensuality of Lucien Freud's nudes in the images of the scandalous British paintress.

Famous paintings of Jenny Saville: Propped 1992, Plan 1993, Shift 1997, Passage 2004, Shadow Head 2013.

Jenny Saville was born on 7 May 1970 in Cambridge to a family of educators. The parents showed understanding for the hobby of their 8-year-old daughter for drawing. Jenny’s mother cleared out the broom closet and set up the first studio for the young talent. Her uncle, an artist and art historian, took the girl to museums and spent hours talking about the works of old and contemporary artists. The girl entered the Glasgow School of the Arts, received a six-month travel scholarship to study in the United States, at the University of Cincinnati. It was in the USA that the artist Jenny Saville “was born”. “Big women and big white bodies in T-shirts and shorts” in the streets of America were the visual experience, which caused non-idealized nude women to become the main subjects of the young British woman's work. In the 1990s, Jenny Saville improved her artistic technique and showed an interest in learning the secrets of human flesh: she watched the work of a plastic surgeon and was surprised at the fragility and elasticity of the body, studied medical pathologies and examined corpses in the morgue, studied classical and Renaissance sculpture, spent hours looking at animal carcasses... Collector Charles Saatchi became interested in the artist’s frightening drawings and eccentric taste and offered her a contract promising to buy and exhibit any her works of the next two years. Saatchi was not wrong. Saville’s paintings were a huge hit in the world of art connoisseurs: Jenny’s canvases provoked hysterical reviews, acts of vandalism, and were auctioned for mind-boggling sums. In the 21st century, the author of the “painful painting” lives, works and teaches in London, where she passes on her experience of intellectual and sensory perception of the body, and most importantly, the ability to challenge the genre limitations and the public opinion conservatism to the new generation of painters.
 

Exhibitions

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View 11 artworks by the artist