Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Born in Cambridge, England in 1970, Jenny Saville is a British painter in the contemporary style.  She is known for her association with the Young British Artists. 

Saville's secondary education began at the Lilley and Stone School in Newark, Nottinghamshire.  She later earned her degree from the Glasgow School of Art.  She was also given a scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, where she encountered "lots of big women.  Big white flesh in shorts and t-shirts.  It was good to see because they had the physicality I was interested in."   Saville credits this physicality to Pablo Picasso, who she saw as a painter the depicted his subjects as if "they were wholly there...not fleeting." 

Between 1992 and 1994, Saville studied at the Slade School of Fine Art.  When she finished her post-graduate studies,  Charles Saatchi, one of Britain's premiere art collectors, purchased her senior show. Saatchi gave her an 18-month contract to produce new works for an exhibit at Saatchi Gallery in London.

Jenny Saville has risen rapidly to recognition, both critically and publicly due somewhat to Saatchi's support.  She creates art in the classical way -- figure painting.  Be it traditional, she has found a way to reinvent figure painting, returning it to it's original context within art history.

Saville makes large-scale paintings of nude women.  The subject matter is feminist in tone, features obese and oft times, faceless women with vast bodies, and results from her time of study in the United States.  She is fascinated with the make up of the human body and it presents itself in her works, with distorted flesh, high-caliber brush strokes, and patches of oil color, or the revelation of the mark of a plastic surgery operation.

She is dedicated to traditional figurative oil painting.  Her style has been called "rubensesque"  Paintings are much larger than life size, strongly pigmented, and highly sensual.  Since her debut in 1992, Saville has remained focused on the female body, deviating somewhat, painting figures of indeterminate gender and transgender people.

Image above, "Hem"  1999,  10' x 7', oil on canvas, by Jenny Saville.

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