Extended through July 23, 2018
I’m trying to see if it’s possible to hold onto that moment of perception, or have several moments coexist. . . . Like looking at a memory.
Gagosian is pleased to present Ancestors, new paintings by Jenny Saville.
In her drawings and paintings, Saville transcends the boundaries of both classical figuration and modern abstraction in her depiction of the human form. 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 this exhibition, Saville depicts the body from the perspective of classical sculpture. The immense canvases recall archetypes from religion and mythology, such as the pietà, the Fates, and the Greek figure of Danaë, who was impregnated by Zeus in a shower of golden rain. The story of Danaë is a popular subject in Renaissance painting, its ethereal cloud and startling sexuality serving as a representational challenge. Titian, master colorist of the Venetian School, famously depicted the scene in the mid-sixteenth century; Saville’s figures, even when recognizable from historical narrative, are at the same time unmistakably of the present moment, merging allusion with immediate sensation.
Saville has always been fascinated by the visceral palpability of the human body. In 1994 she spent time observing a plastic surgeon at work, in order to study the construction of human flesh in much the same way as Renaissance artists did, in their study of bodies and cadavers, to produce anatomical drawings and écorchés. In Saville’s new paintings, the marks and traces of painting and drawing merge with their sculptural subjects, as well as with the living, changing, and perishable forms that figurative art depicts. Each of Saville’s brushstrokes contains both the mass and musculature of the body, and the expression of line and gesture. Their physical and metaphysical layering evokes age-old questions pertaining to the representation of human flesh: narrow marks allude to the shape of forms, and broader marks to their internal surfaces.
The paintings in Ancestors envelop the viewer’s field of vision. The energy of the bodies and their raw human qualities are often confronting in their improvised, non finito appearance, as if the forms—often of floating or indeterminate gender, and always subject to change—are emerging from an inchoate mass before our eyes. In painting the human body, Saville reflects the mutability of human behavior itself.
From the Quarterly
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
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
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.
Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.
Jenny Saville: Erota
Richard Calvocoressi discusses the inspiration behind the artist’s new body of work.
Egon Schiele—Jenny Saville
Lauren Mahony previews the Kunsthaus Zürich exhibition, which paired the works of Jenny Saville and Egon Schiele together.
Extended through July 9, 2016
April 14–July 9, 2016
Davies Street, London
June 13–July 26, 2014
Britannia Street, London
September 15–October 22, 2011
980 Madison Avenue, New York
April 15–May 15, 2010
Davies Street, London