The Young British Artists (YBA) are a group of contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers and video, installation and conceptual artists who rose to prominence at the end of the twentieth century. They were linked together only loosely, with no other common characteristics than their age (they were the Young artists of the time), their nationality (British) and their participation in contemporary art, as well as the fact that the majority of the YBA graduated from Goldsmith's College, London. The YBA became well-known chiefly through three art exhibitions, two of which, one at the Frieze in 1988 and Modern Medicine in 1990 were organized by Damien Hirst (at that time an unknown art student), and one of which, Sensation, held in 1997, took place at the prestigious Royal Academy.
Nothing can represent the YBA better than their works, which can now be seen in the greatest of the world’s museums and galleries. Below you will find a list of the best known artworks created by members of the YBA, to give an impression of their style and variety. I have not included Damien Hirst’s works, because as such a major figure in both the movement and world art, a brief mention could not hope to do his contribution justice. Suffice it to say that his work “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (a giant tiger shark in formaldehyde in a vitrine) is the symbol of Britart worldwide.
Hell (1999–2000) by Jake and Dinos Chapman
The sculpture shows the Chapmans` vision of hell on Earth, represented by the form of 9 glass boxes, full of thousands miniature Nazis and their atrocities, in the form of a swastika. This sculpture was later destroyed by the artists; Dinos Chapman commented “We will just make it again… It is only art.”
My Bed (1999) by Tracey Emin
Tracey exhibited her own bed, showing to the world her most personal space, including dirty linen, worn tights, and empty vodka bottles.
Myra (1995) by Marcus Harvey
Myra is a giant picture of “the most evil woman in Britain” Myra Hindley, made from the photographs of children. At its first exhibition the work was attacked twice: ink and eggs were thrown at it.
Self (1991) by Marc Quinn
A frozen sculpture of the artist's head made from 4.5 liters of his own blood. Reflecting on this work, the artist said “Well, I think it’s a great sculpture. I’m really happy with it. I think it is inevitable that you have one piece people focus in on. But that's really good because it gets people into the work.” Marc Quinn makes a new version of Self every five years.
227: The Lights Going On and Off (2001) by Martin Creed
Nothing can be so simple; the artwork is an empty room, where the lights go on and off. In 2001 it won the Turner Prize.
The Hip One Hundred (1998) by Peter Davies
This work is a list of the greatest artists, chosen by the artist and put in the order Peter Davies considered appropriate, written in the form of a grand-scale colorful painting.
Of course the list of total artworks is much longer; these artworks were chosen in order to give a feeling of the nature of the YBA. The Young British Artists breathed new life into the art world. Their art has lots of critics but it induced much discussion and debate in the art world and encouraged people to think. Now, members of the YBA are regular winners of the Turner Prize, and some have even been elected as members of London’s Royal Academy.
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