Jenny Saville  

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Jenny Saville (born in Cambridge in 1970) is a contemporary English painter and one of the Young British Artists (YBAs). She is known for her monumental images of obese women, usually using herself as the model.

Saville works and lives between London and Palermo, and is a tutor of figure painting at the Slade School of Art.

Saville went to the Lilley and Stone School (now The Grove Specialist Science College), Newark Notts for her secondary education later gaining her degree at Glasgow School of Art (1988–1992), and was then awarded a six month scholarship to the University of Cincinnati, where she states that she saw "Lots of big women. Big white flesh in shorts and T-shirts. It was good to see because they had the physicality that I was interested in". A physicality that she partially credits to Pablo Picasso, an artist that she sees as a painter that made subjects as if "they were solidly there....not fleeting". She studied at the Slade School Of Art between 1992 and 1993. At the end of her postgraduate education, the leading British art collector, Charles Saatchi, purchased her entire senior show and commissioned works for the next two years. In 1994, Saville spent many hours observing plastic surgery operations in New York.

Saville does not meet the usual public perception of the YBAs as she has dedicated her career to traditional figurative oil painting. Her painterly style has been compared to that of Lucian Freud and Rubens. Her paintings are usually much larger than life size. They are strongly pigmented and give a highly sensual impression of the surface of the skin as well as the mass of the body. She sometimes adds marks onto the body, such as white "target" rings.

Since her debut in 1992, Saville's focus has remained on the female body, slightly deviating into subjects with "floating or indeterminant gender," painting large scale paintings of transsexuals and transvestites. Her published sketches and documents include surgical photographs of liposuction, trauma victims, deformity correction, disease states and transgender patients. Her painting Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) appeared on the cover of Manic Street Preachers' third album, The Holy Bible. Further to this, Stare (2005) features as the cover of the ninth Manic Street Preachers album 2009 Journal For Plague Lovers. The Journal For Plague Lovers album cover came 2nd in a 2009 poll for Best Art Vinyl.


  • Cooling Gallery, London, 1993, when Saatchi bought all her works.
  • The controversial 'Sensation' exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art (1997) suddenly brought Saville's work to the attention of the British public at large.
  • In 2002, she collaborated with photographer Glen Luchford to produce huge polaroids of herself taken from below, lying on a sheet of glass.

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