There have been many British artists in the 21st Century that have left us in awe of their work and talent. However, when it comes to expressing one’s self, there are always a few who stand out in our minds for the creativity and originality of their work.
Young British Artists (YBA)
The YBA movement was the earliest result of British artists adapting to the post-modern world of art. This movement was initiated with a series of artist-led exhibitions that took place in factories and warehouses in the late 20th Century. It later gained a high amount of media attention because the artists used original so-called ‘shock-tactics’ to express themselves; they used garbage and other material for their art. This new form of art was indeed controversial but it also intrigued many and illustrated a new world of different possibilities.
Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin are known as the leaders of the YBA. The former British artist is well known for his The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which depicts a shark preserved in a vitrine, while the latter artist’s principle work is called My Bed, which is a disordered bed surrounded by debris.
The British artists of the 21st Century also founded the Stuckism movement in 1999, which has since won international acclaim. Billy Childish and Charles Thomson formed this movement to promote figurative painting, accompanied by 13 other British artists. This group differs from the YBA as it criticizes post-modernism and aims to encourage artists to produce art that has spiritual value and not to focus on the style or subject of their work.
Opposing the post-modern YBA has not hurt the Stuckists’ popularity, as it finally managed to hold an exhibition at the renowned Walker Art Gallery, in Liverpool, in 2004. Notably, although artists belonging to this movement are primarily painters, there are also photographers, film-makers and sculpture-makers that have joined this internationally recognized group.
Image by T. L. Furrer