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Studio Sunday: Jenny Saville

A photo of Jenny Saville at work in her studio


Jenny Saville is a British artist known for large-scale drawings and paintings, often featuring nude female figures, using the traditional subject of the female form as a launching pad for addressing issues of gender and beauty expectations. Saville is based in Oxford, England, where she creates her works in a large personal studio space.


The artist is often grouped together with the Young British Artists, a movement which also included Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.   


I love seeing all the books that Savile has strewn on the floor in front of her -- it’s nice to see an artist, particularly and artist known for drawings, utilizing reference materials so directly. It’s a nice reminder that even the pros use references and book materials for inspiration.


Underneath this layer of books and printed materials, the artist’s studio looks much like what you’d expect from a well-used art space. The floor is concrete and splattered with paint, there’s a few works-in-progress leaning against the wall, and the chair that Saville is sitting on has a painting cloth draped over it. Even Saville herself looks dressed for hard work, expecting to catch some spilled paint or other traditional media in a frenzy of inspired work.


I like the little jars and buckets of brushes and other tools that are on the floor -- it’s interesting to see this material on the floor and not on a table or in front of an easel. There’s an almost visceral, present sense to this placement.


Saville has listed Willem de Kooning among her inspirations, and many of her works invite comparison to the expressionist painter.

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About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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