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Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Propped, 1992 Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Propped, 1992

Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Trace, 1993 Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Trace, 1993

Oil on canvas, 84 × 72 inches (213.4 × 182.9 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Figure 11.26, 1996–97 Oil on canvas, 60 × 60 inches (152.5 × 152.5 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Figure 11.26, 1996–97

Oil on canvas, 60 × 60 inches (152.5 × 152.5 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Fulcrum, 1998–99 Oil on canvas, 103 × 192 inches (261.6 × 487.7 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Fulcrum, 1998–99

Oil on canvas, 103 × 192 inches (261.6 × 487.7 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reverse, 2002–03 Oil on canvas, 84 × 96 inches (213.4 × 243.8 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reverse, 2002–03

Oil on canvas, 84 × 96 inches (213.4 × 243.8 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reflective Flesh, 2002–03 Oil on canvas, 120 ⅛ × 96 ⅛ inches (305.1 × 244 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reflective Flesh, 2002–03

Oil on canvas, 120 ⅛ × 96 ⅛ inches (305.1 × 244 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Torso II, 2004–05 Oil on canvas, 141 ¾ × 115 ¾ inches (360 × 294 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Torso II, 2004–05

Oil on canvas, 141 ¾ × 115 ¾ inches (360 × 294 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Rosetta II, 2005–06 Oil on watercolor paper mounted on board, 99 ¼ × 73 ¾ inches (252 × 187.5 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Rosetta II, 2005–06

Oil on watercolor paper mounted on board, 99 ¼ × 73 ¾ inches (252 × 187.5 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Red Stare Collage, 2007–09 Collage on board, 99 ¼ × 73 ¾ inches (252 × 187.3 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Red Stare Collage, 2007–09

Collage on board, 99 ¼ × 73 ¾ inches (252 × 187.3 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reproduction drawing IV (after the Leonardo cartoon), 2010 Charcoal on paper, 76 ⅜ × 57 ⅛ inches (194 × 145 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Reproduction drawing IV (after the Leonardo cartoon), 2010

Charcoal on paper, 76 ⅜ × 57 ⅛ inches (194 × 145 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, The Mothers, 2011 Oil and charcoal on canvas, 106 ⅜ × 86 ⅝ inches (270 × 220 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, The Mothers, 2011

Oil and charcoal on canvas, 106 ⅜ × 86 ⅝ inches (270 × 220 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Study for Isis and Horus, 2011 Charcoal and pastel on paper, 78 × 58 ¼ inches (198 × 148 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Study for Isis and Horus, 2011

Charcoal and pastel on paper, 78 × 58 ¼ inches (198 × 148 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Dusk, 2014 Charcoal and pastel on canvas, 74 ⅞ × 61 inches (190 × 155 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Dusk, 2014

Charcoal and pastel on canvas, 74 ⅞ × 61 inches (190 × 155 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Oxyrhynchus, 2012–14 Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 67 × 98 ½ inches (170 × 250 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Oxyrhynchus, 2012–14

Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 67 × 98 ½ inches (170 × 250 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, In the realm of the Mothers II, 2014 Charcoal on canvas, 106 ¼ × 135 ⅞ inches (270 × 345 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, In the realm of the Mothers II, 2014

Charcoal on canvas, 106 ¼ × 135 ⅞ inches (270 × 345 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Voice of the Shuttle (Philomela), 2014–15 Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 110 ¼ × 141 ¾ inches (280 × 360 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Voice of the Shuttle (Philomela), 2014–15

Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 110 ¼ × 141 ¾ inches (280 × 360 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Pastel Bodies, 2014 Pastel on paper, 59 ⅞ × 48 ¼ inches (152 × 122.5 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Pastel Bodies, 2014

Pastel on paper, 59 ⅞ × 48 ¼ inches (152 × 122.5 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Aleppo, 2017–18 Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 78 ⅜ × 63 inches (200 × 160 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Aleppo, 2017–18

Pastel and charcoal on canvas, 78 ⅜ × 63 inches (200 × 160 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Chapter (for Linda Nochlin), 2016–18 Charcoal on cotton duck canvas, 102 ½ × 93 inches (260.4 × 236.2 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Chapter (for Linda Nochlin), 2016–18

Charcoal on cotton duck canvas, 102 ½ × 93 inches (260.4 × 236.2 cm)
© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Red Fates, 2018 Oil on canvas, 94 ½ × 102 ⅜ inches (240 × 260 cm)© Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville, Red Fates, 2018

Oil on canvas, 94 ½ × 102 ⅜ inches (240 × 260 cm)
© Jenny Saville

About

Human perception of the body is so acute and knowledgeable that the smallest hint of a body can trigger recognition.
—Jenny Saville

In her depictions of the human form, Jenny Saville transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction. Oil paint, applied in heavy layers, becomes as visceral as flesh itself, each painted mark maintaining a supple, mobile life of its own. As Saville pushes, smears, and scrapes the pigment over her large-scale canvases, the distinctions between living, breathing bodies and their painted representations begin to collapse.

Born in 1970 in Cambridge, England, Saville attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1992, spending a term at the University of Cincinnati in 1991. Her studies focused her interest in “imperfections” of flesh, with all of its societal implications and taboos. Saville had been captivated with these details since she was a child; she has spoken of seeing the work of Titian and Tintoretto on trips with her uncle, and of observing the way that her piano teacher’s two breasts—squished together in her shirt—became one large mass. While on a fellowship in Connecticut in 1994, Saville was able to observe a New York City plastic surgeon at work. Studying the reconstruction of human flesh was formative in her perception of the body—its resilience, as well as its fragility. Her time with the surgeon fueled her examination into the seemingly infinite ways that flesh is transformed and disfigured. She explored medical pathologies; viewed cadavers in the morgue; examined animals and meat; studied classical and Renaissance sculpture; and observed intertwined couples, mothers with their children, individuals whose bodies challenge gender dichotomies, and more.

A member of the Young British Artists (YBAs), the loose group of painters and sculptors who came to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Saville reinvigorated contemporary figurative painting by challenging the limits of the genre and raising questions about society’s perception of the body and its potential. Though forward-looking, her work reveals a deep awareness, both intellectual and sensory, of how the body has been represented over time and across cultures—from antique and Hindu sculpture, to Renaissance drawing and painting, to the work of modern artists such as Henri Matisse, Willem de Kooning, and Pablo Picasso. In the striking faces, jumbled limbs, and tumbling folds of her paintings, one may perceive echoes of Titian’s Venus of Urbino (c. 1532), Rubens’s Christ in the Descent from the Cross (1612–14), Manet’s Olympia (1863), and faces and bodies culled from magazines and tabloid newspapers. Saville’s paintings refuse to fit smoothly into an historical arc; instead, each body comes forward, autonomous, voluminous, and always refusing to hide.

Jenny Saville

Photo: Pal Hansen/Getty Images

Jenny Saville, Study for Pentimenti I, 2011, graphite and pastel on paper.

Shortlist
Five Preoccupations: Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville shares a selection of the books, films, and more that have been her companions in the quiet of the shutdowns in recent months and as she looks ahead to a new exhibition next year.

Jenny Saville in her studio.

In Conversation
Jenny Saville and Nicholas Cullinan

Jenny Saville speaks with Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, from her studio. They discuss portraiture, her latest work, and her art historical influences, as well as the shifting nature of perception in the age of digital communication.

Left: Sally Mann, Self-Portrait, 1974; right: Jenny Saville in her studio, c. 1990s.

In Conversation
Sally Mann and Jenny Saville

The two artists discuss being drawn to difficult subjects, the effects of motherhood on their practice, embracing chance, and their shared adoration of Cy Twombly.

Still from video Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.

Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2019

The Spring 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Red Pot with Lute Player #2 by Jonas Wood on its cover.

Jenny Saville: Ancestors

Jenny Saville: Ancestors

In this video, Jenny Saville speaks about Ancestors and her new works currently on view at Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York.

Jenny Saville and Dr. Simon Groom

In Conversation
Jenny Saville and Dr. Simon Groom

Jenny Saville discusses the beginnings and evolutions of her painting practice with Dr. Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. She speaks candidly on her endless passion for painting the figure, the beauty of struggle, motherhood, and the artists that have inspired her.

Jenny Saville on Willem de Kooning

Jenny Saville on Willem de Kooning

In 2013, the exhibition Willem de Kooning: Ten Paintings, 1983–1985 explored the legendary artist’s late work. For the catalogue accompanying the presentation, Jenny Saville spoke on the gestures and elemental elegance of these paintings.

Desire

Desire

Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.

Jenny Saville: Erota

Jenny Saville: Erota

Richard Calvocoressi discusses the inspiration behind the artist’s new body of work.

Egon Schiele—Jenny Saville

Egon Schiele—Jenny Saville

Lauren Mahony previews the Kunsthaus Zürich exhibition, which paired the works of Jenny Saville and Egon Schiele together.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Photo: courtesy the artist

Artist Spotlight

Jenny Saville

July 22–28, 2020

In her depictions of the human form, Jenny Saville transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction. Oil paint, applied in heavy layers, becomes as visceral as flesh itself, each painted mark maintaining a supple, mobile life of its own. As Saville pushes, smears, and scrapes the pigment over her large-scale canvases, the distinctions between living, breathing bodies and their painted representations begin to collapse.

Photo: courtesy the artist

Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus (London: Gagosian, 2015)

Online Reading

Jenny Saville
Oxyrhynchus

Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus is available for online reading from July 22 through August 21 as part of Artist Spotlight: Jenny Saville. This publication features more than a dozen works from 2006 to 2014 in which the artist references the layer upon layer of discoveries at Oxyrhynchus, a city in upper Egypt that was established in 332 bce and is considered one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. The final effect is a mysterious narrative of layered bodies and images, conveyed in a combination of oil, charcoal, and pastel. An essay by art historian John Elderfield, built around the observations of multiple past voices and the artist herself, captures the temporal culture of visual art to which the Oxyrhynchus canvases belong.

Jenny Saville: Oxyrhynchus (London: Gagosian, 2015)

Still from “Jenny Saville: Life through a Microscope”

Video

Jenny Saville
Life through a Microscope

In this video produced by the National Galleries of Scotland, Jenny Saville speaks about her practice on the occasion of her major survey at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, in 2018. She discusses her identity as a “picture maker,” the artistic freedom that having children has given her, and the importance of Titian.

Still from “Jenny Saville: Life through a Microscope”

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Museum Exhibitions

Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#138), 1984, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln © Cindy Sherman

On View

Person of Interest

Through December 31, 2020
Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
sheldonartmuseum.org

Exploring nuances in portraiture from the late nineteenth century to today—and testing the very definition of the genre—Person of Interest presents depictions of the literal and abstracted body from Sheldon’s rich holdings and selected loans. This exhibition asks open-ended questions about self-fashioning, cultural memory, gender identity, and the performance of identity. In doing so, it prompts conversations about race and representation, institutional power, and lived experiences. Work by Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Jenny Saville, and Cindy Sherman is included.

Cindy Sherman, Untitled (#138), 1984, Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln © Cindy Sherman

Installation view, Inspiraatio—Nykytaide & Klassikot, Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, June 18–September 20, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Glenn Brown, © Wolfe von Lenkiewicz. Photo: Hannu Pakarinen

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Inspiraatio—Nykytaide & Klassikot

June 18–September 20, 2020
Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki
ateneum.fi

This exhibition, whose title translates to Inspiration—Contemporary Art and Classics, explores contemporary art inspired by iconic masterpieces. Here, the original works are referenced through replicas, prints, plaster casts, and an abundance of archival materials. This exhibition has traveled from the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, under the title Inspiration: Iconic Works. Work by Georg Baselitz, Glenn Brown, Jeff Koons, and Jenny Saville is included.

Installation view, Inspiraatio—Nykytaide & Klassikot, Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, June 18–September 20, 2020. Artwork, left to right: © Glenn Brown, © Wolfe von Lenkiewicz. Photo: Hannu Pakarinen

Jenny Saville, Electra, 2012–19 © Jenny Saville. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates

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Jenny Saville in
Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media

January 24–August 23, 2020
Foundling Museum, London
foundlingmuseum.org.uk

Through paintings, prints, photographs, objects, and clothing from the fifteenth century to the present day, this show aims to explore the different ways in which pregnancy was, or was not, represented in art and society; how shifting social attitudes have impacted depictions of pregnant women; how the possibility of death in childbirth brought additional tension to such representations; and how more recent images, which often reflect increased female agency and empowerment, still remain highly charged. Work by Jenny Saville is included.

Jenny Saville, Electra, 2012–19 © Jenny Saville. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates

Jenny Saville, Black Mass (after Leonardo), 2008 © Jenny Saville

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Inspiration
Iconic Works

February 20–May 17, 2020
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm
www.nationalmuseum.se

This exhibition presents contemporary art that draws inspiration from historic masterpieces. A selection of paintings, plaster sculptures, drawings, graphic prints, and applied arts from Nationalmuseum’s vast collections are displayed in dialogue with contemporary objects. Work by Glenn Brown, Jeff Koons, Jenny Saville, and Cindy Sherman is included.

Jenny Saville, Black Mass (after Leonardo), 2008 © Jenny Saville

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Press

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