Many people are passionate about Jenny Saville's work (British, 1970-), while others find it disturbing, and quickly look away. In her paintings we see women as meat, their rolls of fat and blemished skin presented to the viewer without embarrassment, even with something like defiance. The color and texture of their flesh is painted with gutsy and painterly attention.
Saville often uses herself as a model, and although she is of normal weight, she typically paints herself as obese. These nudes are partially a comment on a typical female's dissatisfaction with her body, and how distorted her own view of herself can be. Yet there is also an acceptance of imperfection, and a kind of "take that" attitude to men who want their women young and beautiful, or invisible.
Jenny Saville was discovered at the age of 23, when influential art collector Charles Saatchi purchased all of the work on her graduate student wall. Now in her 40s, she has continued with the theme of the female body, and since becoming a mother has been inspired by motherhood and her young children's bodies as well. She and fashion photographer Glenn Luchford have collaborated on a series of prints made of her body pressed against sheets of glass, one of which is shown here as the final image:
Branded oil on canvas 7 by 6 feet 1992
Fulcrum oil on canvas 103 x 193"1999
Reverse oil on canvas, 84 x 96″ 2003-2004
The Mothers oil on canvas 2011 106.5 x 85 and 5/8 inches
Self Portrait (photograph collaboration between Jenny Saville and Glenn Luchford)
If there's a narrative, I want it in the flesh.
I want to be a painter of modern life, and modern bodies.
I don't even know my own collectors. All the razzmatazz: the market, the auctions. I'm quite immune to it. I know it's part of the process. But when you get in the studio, none of that will help you to make a better painting."
I just love paint. I think paint's beautiful.
I never thought: I'm a girl, I can't do this. It was only when I got to art school that I realised that the great artists of the past were not women. I had a sort of epiphany in the library: where are all the women? Only then, as the truth dawned, did I start to feel pissed off. - Jenny Saville