The 1990’s and the Young British Artists

Sensation was an exhibition which included the artworks of the young British artists of the time exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts. This exhibition revolusionised the view on contemporary art at the time. Firstly I must look at the question “who were the YBA’s?” In Goldsmiths art college a young artist called Damien Hirst decided to set up the exhibition “Freeze” in 1988 showing the work of artists:

  • Angela BullochFreeze-participants
  • Mat Collishaw
  • Ian Davenport
  • Angus Fairhurst
  • Anya Gallaccio
  • Damien Hirst
  • Gary Hume
  • Michael Landy
  • Abigail Lane
  • Sarah Lucas
  • Lala Meredith-Vula
  • Richard Patterson
  • Simon Patterson
  • Stephen Park
  • Fiona Rae

Some of these names now are well known, some of them are not so much but this exhibition was the start of the making of the young British artists at the time.

The “Sensation” exhibition shown artists of the YBAs however more artists were shown like, Jenny Saville, Marc Quinn and Jake and Dinos Chapman.




What did the YBA’s have in common??

One thing they all had in common was Shock, every piece of artwork through all the artists had the element of shock engaging the audience making the Sensation exhibition instantly popular.

common in all the YBA’s work:

  1. Suprise
  2. Using Taboo subject e.g. sex, death
  3. Immoral or amoral statements


Not all the YBA’s were Neo-conceptual, however the best known YBA’s artworks were both shocking and neo-conceptual.



Why did this painting cause such a public out cry when it was shown in the Sensation exhibition in London?

Do you think the painting has a message ? If so what is it ?

This painting is a painting of a criminal who helped the child killer Ian Brady hide the bodies in the Moors. the painting is painted with children hand prints which creates the image.

Did Marcus Harvey do this for fame? Publicity? or was this a social experiment? What ever the cause it created an up roar with protests outside the exhibition and eventually one of the protesters thrown ink all over the painting. How can an image be so powerful in a gallery when it is mass produced in the papers and on the news. Why is it her instead of Ian Brady? Is it because it is more shocking that a women would commit this act as they should have a motherly instinct? This image is an iconic image which has powerful symbolism that when put into a gallery made with hand prints of children it brought the audience to hate the artist who did this but is the artist doing any wrong in using this image as it is so used? The hand prints in symbolism with the about of children she helped kill and hide seemed to be too much for the public to bare.

Myra Hindley- Marcus Harvey


Why when the Sensation exhibiton was in New York did this painting cause the most controversy? This piece didn’t cause much trouble in London so why did it shock more than Myra Hindley?

Why might this be described as shocking ?

Where people justified in objecting to it? 

This piece was the Virgin Mary as symbolised through the blue around her . She is shown as black and the pieces stuck to the painting is vaginas and bums. The piece has animal faeces on it also. I don’t see it as religious but others saw it as mocking and making the virgin impure de-idolising her as this iconic symbol.


                                                                                                                                            Chris Ofili-The Holy Virgin Mary

Conceptualism+Pop= Neo-Conceptualism

Conceptual Art

  1. Form- governed by an idea
  2. Documentation
  3. Expressed in language

Neo-conceptual art

  1. The work is visual
  2. Subject is striking and possibly controversial
  3. The tone is ironic/humorous
  4. Raises questions about the role of the author
  5. It uses traditional form

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