Damien Hirst, Spot Print - Vespula Vidua, 2011. Courtesy of Samuel Owen Gallery.

Young British Artists

As a student at the Goldsmiths school of the University of London in 1988, Damien Hirst curated an exhibition called “Freeze,” featuring the provocative works of many of his fellow students, including Sarah Lucas, Ian Davenport, Angelo Bulloch, and more. After the unexpected success of the show, the group became known as the Young British Artists (or YBAs), and their anarchist spirit and entrepreneurial attitudes launched a new era of contemporary art. Mounting a series of exhibitions in the mid-1990s at London’s Saatchi Gallery, the YBAs drew stylistically from Minimalism and Conceptualism, often focusing on the darker aspects of contemporary life. Including talents like Tracey Emin, Jenny Saville, Marc Quinn, and Chris Ofili, the YBAs have gone on to present memorable items (such as taxidermy sharks, unmade beds, and elephant dung) as art—shocking many, but also making them some of the most collectible contemporary artists on the market.

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