Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jenny Saville


  1. I know you were hesitant to include her because she's all ready gotten a lot of notice. But I think she's so good at challenging all of our notions of beauty and the cost of being beautiful. I think it's really important to not just make beautiful paint, but to get the viewer to think beyond. Having a balance of technique and content is so important (especially when painting the female form). Otherwise, it's just a pretty picture. Right?

  2. I appreciate a good social commentary discussion about the problems for women around beauty and self mutilation and abuse as much as any other feminist on the block. But I'm uncomfortable with the fact that the gruesomeness in Saville's paintings becomes appealing, and the paintings themselves rely on and perpetuate a sense of horror.

    Obviously I have a really different philosophy about art than I think Saville does. I'd get a huge kick out of it if she started painting flowers and fruit, to the horror of her gallerists and collectors :)

  3. Personally I find this painting incredibly disturbing, as to me the women reminds of someone who just had the shit kicked out of them and is lying down unable to move. I think it's the colors used and the way the lips look so swollen and like there is blood on her teeth.

    It's more than just "unpretty" or "challenging beauty" to me, two things which I can totally get behind.

    Not to even begin to suggest that you shouldn't have included it, though.

  4. This is one of Saville's many self portraits. And it is gruesome for sure! She has looked at thousands of documents for what patients look like immediately after plastic surgery and has infused this into her own image. I understand it's hard to look at. I don't know what it says about me, but I LIKE that it is hard to look at. It makes me stop and question. I too often see images (even my own) that are 'easy' on the eyes, both with subject and paint application, and I don't spend as much time looing at or thinking of these paintings. I'm glad to have this painting included here, because look at the discussion it has stirred.

  5. I thought I read also that she takes photos in morgues, and this is supposed to be herself dead.

    The painting certainly has a draw, a fascination, and I find it disturbing how it leaps off the page, I notice it every time I scroll by.

    Does that make it a true expression of the artist, so honest and direct that we admire her ability to show us something true?

    Or is it that she's figured out how to package lower cortex brain triggers well?

    100 years from now, will art historians say that she was an important artist of our times, grappling with the inherent conflicts in being female at the dawn of a new era of women being accepted as equal to men?

    Or will they say she was a woman who learned to game the system in a man's world?

    Is she contradicting the status quo, or benefiting from it?

  6. Saville's paintings are bold but not genuine. They feel manufactured, gimmicky as if she said "what can I do that would be shocking, disturbing, different". They are not from her gut.I got the sense when I first saw her work years ago that she was influenced by Lucien Freud's "Benefits Supervisor" paintings. The difference being that Freud's work is raw, the real deal, not superficial.

    I think Sophie Jodoin's work is far stronger . Jodoin's work may not be as grotesque but it has far more depth and a disturbing reality that Saville's paintings lack.... for me anyway.

  7. I think you may be right Sandra especially for some of her more recent works, but I wonder if that was her intention or if it's because she became part of the 'machine'. Being snatched up by Satchi surly has to have lasting affects on your work... but would you turn it down??

    I too love Sophie Jodoin's work. And I've watched her continual evolution. She is AMAZING!

  8. I always sort of pshawed at her rendering humans to be more grotesque than human, but suppose that is her true and authentic outlook? Not all of us can see the human condition as something we want to make look beautiful. I myself have always wanted to paint beauty and form, and I'm just starting now to want to deal with some of the more disturbing realities of my early life. Maybe in a way we can still relate her work to "man being bitten by snake" by Poussin...

  9. The majority of work in this Women Painting Women section, however technically proficient, is either sickly sentimental, erotic nonsense or is generally dull.
    I don't care how much exposure Jenny Saville has had, all I can say is thank god for her!