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The Sensation Show

Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection

London: Royal Academy of Arts, Sept. 17 - Dec. 28, 1997
New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 1999 - Jan. 9, 2000


The Sensation shows in London and New York were sources of either intense controversy or blatant hype, depending on your point of view, but they certainly succeeded in sparking some of the most serious debates on the role of art in society in recent years.

In London, the lightning rod for controversy was a Marcus Harvey portrait of Myra Hindley, a notorious child murderer, done Chuck Close-style using hundreds of children's handprints. This painting was physically attacked at least twice: once it was pelted with eggs and on another occasion it had ink thrown at it. (Harvey's approach to conservation is worth noting: he cleaned the stains off the painting with a scouring pad.)

When the show arrived in New York, public fury centered around Chris Ofili's painting of The Holy Virgin Mary - an African Madonna accessorized by a clump of elephant dung.

"Britart" stars included in the show included Jenny Saville, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Gillian Wearing and Tracey Emin.

In retrospect, it's undoubtedly worth remembering that Charles Saatchi made his fortune in advertising. Sensation was a huge success which brought in millions of dollars in revenue, and generated many more millions worth of free publicity for Saatchi and his group of artists, not to mention the many politicians and pundits who waded into the debate on "decency" vs. free speech.


 
Artists whose work appeared in Sensation:

Darren Almond Richard Billingham      Glenn Brown
Simon Callery Dinos Chapman Jake Chapman
Adam Chodzko Mat Collishaw Keith Coventry
Peter Davies Tracey Emin Cerith Wyn Evans     
Paul Finnegan Mark Francis Alex Hartley
Marcus Harvey Mona Hatoum Damien Hirst
Gary Hume Michael Landy Abigail Lane
Langlands and Bell      Sarah Lucas Martin Maloney
Jason Martin Alain Miller Ron Mueck
Chris Ofili Jonathan Parsons Richard Patterson
Simon Patterson Hadrian Pigott Marc Quinn
Fiona Rae James Rielly Jenny Saville
Yinka Shonibare Jane Simpson Sam Taylor-Wood
Gavin Turk Mark Wallinger Gillian Wearing
Rachel Whiteread    

 
 
 




 
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