“As the art market revived [in the early- to mid- 1990s] and success beckoned, the new art became more evidently two-faced, looking still to the mass media and a broad audience but also to the particular concerns of the narrow world of art-buyers and dealers. To please both was not an easy task. Could the artists face both ways at once, and take both sets of viewers seriously? That split in attention, I shall argue, led to a wide public being successfully courted but not seriously addressed. It has left a large audience for high art lite intrigued but unsatisfied, puzzled at the work’s meaning and wanting explanations that are never vouchsafed: the aim of this book is to suggest the direction some of those answers might take and to do so in a style that is as accessible as the art it examines.”
Many of these artists were initially supported and collected by Charles Saatchi. Leading artists of the group include Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Key works include Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine, and Enim’s My Bed, a dishevelled double bed surrounded by detritus.
Both these British artists did indeed make lots of money and name for themselves. But Stallabrass was one of the first to demur.
More on Tracey Emin in Edinburgh.