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.
Created in response to the covid-19 pandemic, the Artist Spotlight series highlights individual artists, one week at a time, whose exhibitions have been affected by the health crisis. A single artwork by the artist is made available with pricing information for forty-eight hours only.
To conclude the series, Artist Spotlight: Jenny Saville features a new self-portrait made by the artist to commemorate her fiftieth birthday earlier this year. For more information, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: courtesy the artist
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.
Jenny Saville Now
On the occasion of a major survey of the artist’s work, Dr. Simon Groom, Director of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, studies the evolution of Jenny Saville’s practice.
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.
Extended through July 23, 2018
May 3–July 23, 2018
West 21st Street, New York
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)
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”
Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 6:30–7:45pm
Royal Academy of Arts, London
On the occasion of the exhibition Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, Jenny Saville will speak with David Dawson, cocurator of the show. Saville will reflect on her relationship with self-portraiture and the effect it has had on her career, while Dawson will offer insight into Freud’s approach to the theme. The talk will be chaired by RA artistic director Tim Marlow. The event has reached capacity.
Jenny Saville, Self-Portrait (after Rembrandt), 2019 © Jenny Saville
Person of Interest
Through July 3, 2021
Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
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.
Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Lil’ Barbara, 2017 © Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Inspiraatio—Nykytaide & Klassikot
June 18–September 20, 2020
Ateneum, Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki
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 in
Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media
January 24–August 23, 2020
Foundling Museum, London
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
February 20–May 17, 2020
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.
Glenn Brown, Reproduction, 2014 © Glenn Brown