Jenny Saville, the real victim of Banksy's prank | Culture

Banksy not only destroyed a painting, but also the night of glory of Jenny Saville (Cambridge, 1970). On Friday, Sotheby's sold Propped (Supported) for 10.8 million euros, the highest price ever paid (at auction) by a living artist. The incumbents did not take David Teiger-deceased in 2014, at age 85, the wise consultant who managed to amass an extraordinary collection, whose sale was worth 41 million euros for the entire lot. While Sotheby's sales rate was 81% and Christie's (last night) 85%, the Teiger fund was sold complete, including two Peter Doig canvases.

Despite the historical record, the night was for Banksy, who far from destroying anything, created a work for twice its value. What looked like a cut artist sleeves to the market could have a boomerang effect. Girl With Balloon was stabbed by a machine installed inside, to the surprise of the audience. The impact of happening I could multiply your price. As Joey Syer, co-founder of, points out, The Evening Standard, the Banksy maneuver would have increased the value, at least, by 50% on a work that was awarded for 1.2 million after a starting price of 300,000 euros.

A jewel of the Young British Artists

The bid for the work was won over the phone after an intense five-way battle for "one of the undisputed masterpieces of the Young British Artists," according to Alex Braczik, head of European contemporary art at Sotheby's. The work had not been seen again in public after the mythical Sensation (1997, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London), the foundational generation exhibition from the collection of Charles Saatchi, and arrived at the auction house with a starting price of 4.5 million euros.

Teiger acquired the work of Saville in 2004, in a transaction organized by the gallery owner Larry Gagosian. The collector, who used to wear very colorful sports clothes, had already bought important works by Rothko, de Kooning and Diebenkorn, when he began to collect American art in the early nineties.

Saville is known for her giant feminine nudes, with a rotten Velazquez stain, of bodies if they go through the ideal, far from conventional beauty, prototypes and covers, close to overflowing flesh, monumental and exaggerated bodies, in a figuration heir to the tradition started by Lucian Freud.

'Propped', Saville's box sold for 10.8 million.
'Propped', Saville's box sold for 10.8 million.

In 2003, he blew up all that pleasant tradition with the show Migrants, in New York, where he included images taken from photographs of the abuses committed in Abu Ghraib prison. An aggressive work in a world in which images are devoured and experiences are consumed. After all, the body of Christ scourged and wounded is a recurrent element in religious imagery, an object of adoration and piety in the past. Saville made that violence an end in itself.

That sample was a passing experiment, a summer madness that vanished to return to beauty, with a delivery that the painter had not experienced. She often says that her motherhood changed her job, that she looks at her children and accepts that beauty has entered her life.

What has never changed in his career is the need to confront the human body, to twist it, to dislocate it without separating from the truth. She became famous with these obese bodies, then transited by others about to undergo plastic surgery, always women. His painting is an antiplastic surgery, which annihilates the tyranny of the bodies polished by PhotoShop. Her work is undoubtedly feminine and feminist, cold and torrid. His women are not painted by men.


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