BREAKING THE RULES
In the late 80s and group of young brash artists got together and made a huge impact to the art world. The group later became known as the Young British Artists (YBAs). The group consisted of acclaimed artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, The Chapman Brothers, Sarah Lucas and others. The group began by putting on their own show in 1988 called Freeze. Young, energetic, and media savvy, the group took the London art scene by storm. Some of the artists from the YBA are now some of the most successful and richest artists in the world.
They want to shock the world and they did. Violent imagery, use of pornography, and pushing the boundaries of what was considered art at the time put them on the map. The most popular of the group without question was Damien Hirst who’s 1991 sculpture ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Something Living’ was the most representative work of the YBA movement. Simply referred to as ‘The Shark’ the sculpture was made of a tiger shark suspended in formaldehyde. With mouth open you could stand in front and feel the fear of this one of a kind sculpture. The work was commissioned by Charles Saatchi, the gallerist and collector who would become the backer of the group and their biggest cheerleader.
Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’ was another example of the bold and brashness of the group. Emin removed her bed from her home and installed it in a gallery space. The reconstruction of the scene she witnessed after a stint of depression caused by a breakup. Emin became a target of tabloid media and has now become one of the most successful artists of the past 30 years.
The YBA’s work fit in the postmodern experimental art world that dominated the 90s. The breakdown of the high and low culture, use of appropriations and rejection of the fine art market made for a spectacle that the art world could not turn away from. For those reasons they broke new ground and pushed the art conversation forward.