Sensation at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (1997)

Here’s the press release of the landmark show that got so many people talking.

Sensation: Young British artists from The Saatchi Collection

Royal Academy of Arts
London, England
18 September - 28 December 1997 (Closed 25 December)

Press release text by Royal Academy of Arts


Sponsored by Christie’s. In association with TimeOut

The achievements of a generation of young British artists whose original and challenging work has received international acclaim are the focus of this major exhibition. Entitled Sensation, the show presents work by artists selected from The Saatchi Collection. As well as highlighting the vitality and inventiveness of current British art, the exhibition also demonstrates the commitment that Charles Saatchi has shown in collecting the work of these young artists.

This recent explosion of creativity and excitement in the visual arts has not been seen since the emergence of Pop Art in the early 1960s. This current phenomenon was originally identified in the late 1980s through exhibitions in the east end of London, most notably Freeze and Modern Medicine. These exhibitions were organised by a group of young artists who, having just graduated from art school, sought venues that lay outside the traditional institutions of the art world in order to show their work. Since then the energy and ingenuity that many artists have shown in promoting their own work has been one of the factors of their success.

The individuality of their work makes it impossible to brand this generation of young artists as a movement, even though many of the artists know and support each other. By showing their work together, which ranges in media from paintings and sculpture to video, photography and ready-made objects, it is possible to appreciate the interaction and shared concerns of their work which can, in turn, be exuberantly humorous or brutally forthright.

The artists represented in Sensation are: Darren Almond, Richard Billingham, Glenn Brown, Simon Callery, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Adam Chodzko, Mat Collishaw, Keith Coventry, Peter Davies, Tracey Emin, Paul Finnegan, Mark Francis, Alex Hartley, Marcus Harvey, Mona Hatoum, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Michael Landy, Abigail Lane, Langlands & Bell, Sarah Lucas, Martin Maloney, Jason Martin, Alain Miller, Ron Mueck, Chris Ofili, Jonathan Parsons, Richard Patterson, Simon Patterson, Hadrian Pigott, Marc Quinn, Fiona Rae, James Rielly, Jenny Saville, Yinka Shonibare, Jane Simpson, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gavin Turk, Mark Wallinger, Gillian Wearing, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans.


The catalogue accompanying the exhibition examines the rise of these young British artists and places their work in a historical and critical context. Norman Rosenthal, Exhibitions Secretary at the Royal Academy, writes an introduction to the exhibition, Richard Shone charts the story over the past 10 years from the Freeze exhibition to Rachel Whiteread’s "House" and Lisa Jardine looks at the role of the collector in the twentieth century. Martin Maloney focuses on the works in the exhibition and Brooks Adams examines the work of the young British artists from an international perspective. The catalogue has over 180 illustrations including photographs of the artists by Johnnie Shand Kydd. Published by Thames & Hudson, the catalogue will be available both in softback (£21.95 and £19.95 for Friends) from the Royal Academy during the exhibition and in hardback from shops nationwide.


NOTES TO EDITORS: The Royal Academy offers the following advice to people before visiting the exhibition.

There will be works of art on display in the Sensation exhibition which some people may find distasteful. Parents should exercise their judgement in bringing their children to the exhibition. One gallery will not be open to those under the age of 18.


"I remember that time as if it were yesterday, when I had just moved to the exotic island after living in Southeast Asia. Upon my arrival to London, some were still grieving over their lost princess, while others were all excited about some art show held at a place called the Royal Academy. I wandered into the press preview, started with the shark, but became quickly mesmerized by "the tent." On the floor, peering inside and giggling, a radio journalist walked over and asked to interview me..."