Young British Artists (YBA) in terms from the artzine on artrepublic.com

The YBA's or Young British Artists emerged in the late 1980’s. It began around a series of artist led exhibitions an in particular the Freeze exhibition in 1988 organised by Damien Hirst while he was still studying at Goldsmiths collage. It was then supported by Charles Saatchi who collected the work of YBA’s and showcased it in shows such as the Sensation exhibition in 1997.

The YBA’s were noted at the start for the use of shock tactics, throwaway materials, wild-living, and gained a huge amount of media attention in the 1990’s. Their work re-vitalised the British art scene and lead to more artist-curator lead exhibitions and artists embracing and becoming more involved in the commercial aspect s of their work.

The core of artists associated with the YBA movement all graduated from Goldsmiths Collage London and it is said that Michael Craig Martin one of the tutors there at the time had fostered this new way of working. 

The YBA label proved to be a powerful brand and marketing tool, but it concealed huge diversity between the artists involved. Now many of the artists involved such as Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin have become part of the art establishment they were striking out against when they started. Although maturing into different artists the YBA’s are held together by their shared emergence in the art world of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Other YBA’s include Marc Quinn, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, Rachel Whiteread and Jake and Dinos Chapman.


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