The images offer, not a story, but an experience that begins in visceral uneasiness and gradually shifts to a haunted serenity. The discomfort is complicated. It is triggered partly by our sense of the instantaneous monstrosity of a normal human transformed by the spreading of the shape beyond what we understood as normal.
—Katherine Dunn, from the exhibition catalogue
Gagosian is pleased to present the photographic series Closed Contact (1995–96). This collaboration between painter Jenny Saville and fashion photographer/filmmaker Glen Luchford confronts and challenges conceived notions of feminine beauty. The collusion of the art and fashion worlds has produced many hybrids in recent years, yet none perhaps as intensely striking as this series. In this body of work, the artists have created a new form of self-portraiture, using Saville as the model.
After observing operations of reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, Saville was eager to express the violence and anesthetized pain of this experience in her own work. Luchford and Saville began an artistic collaboration that captures the full range of color, tonality, and topography of live flesh in large photographic tableaux. Distortions confront and coerce the viewer into an examination of one’s own body and the grotesqueries and beauties inherent within. The images also recall biological specimens preserved, disembodied, and disfigured.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by acclaimed writer Katherine Dunn. A limited edition that will include a photographic print in a specially designed Plexiglas case will also be available.
Jenny Saville: Painting the Self
Jenny Saville speaks with Nicholas Cullinan, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, about her latest self-portrait, her studio practice, and the historical painters to whom she continually returns.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2020
The Winter 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Jenny Saville’s Prism (2020) on its cover.
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 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.
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.
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.
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