The YBA generation

If we are to understand where and how artistic movements come from and what impact they have on the society and culture of their time, then one can easily refer to the generation of Young British Artists that sprung up in London at the end of the 1980s, a group of artists which have gone on to dominate international Contemporary Art ever since.

Damien Hirst, Beautiful exploding spinning spiral drawing, 1993

Born out of the cultural ashes of the ‘yuppie’ era at the back end of the Thatcher government, this new generation of (mostly) Goldsmiths alumni, Michael Craig-Martin protégés, decided for themselves to grab the London art scene by the scruff of the neck and get on with doing it for themselves. Bogged down and switched off by the still-conservative art world they graduated into, this counter-culture was born in a derelict warehouse far away in the smouldering wreckage of the East End, under the banner of the aptly-named ‘Freeze’ exhibition.

Great art movements need not only a talented and coherent group of individuals, all moving in the same direction, on the same quest, but it also needs a political and/or economic crisis to give it impetus and meaning. The catalyst for the birth of the YBA generation is similar to what we are experiencing today – a couple of years of unfettered excess followed by near total economic collapse and social disintegration.

Chris Ofili, Double Afro Heads, 1999

The summer of 1988 also saw the emergence of ‘Rave’ culture and the birth of Acid House music. Suddenly the 1960s had re-emerged in Swinging London, drugs were rife, youth disobedience was everywhere. Throw in the collapse of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the beginning of the end of communist Russia, and you have a very fertile ground for the emergence of what may be seen as the last great, radical art movement. And, of course, all of this would not have been possible without the patronage of the generation’s great collector – Charles Saatchi.



We have a number of works available from this period including examples by Fiona Banner, Chapman Brothers, Angus Fairhurst, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Jason Martin, Chris Ofili, Julian Opie, Sam Taylor-Wood and Gavin Turk.

If you wish to find out more, then please contact us directly.