In 1965, the Walker Art Center presented the work of 13 young British artists in the exhibition London: The New Scene. In recent years, international art magazines have been attempting to come to grips with the explosion of work from the British art scene. The Walker is the first major museum to mount a sweeping review of this provocative work with "Brilliant!" New Art from London, organized by Chief Curator Richard Flood. Heralded by The Independent on Sunday as the highlight of the 1995 art season, the exhibition features 22 young artists internationally acknowledged as among the most exciting working today. "Brilliant!" New Art from London will be on view October 22, 1995-January 7, 1996.
The artists chosen for the exhibition have become increasingly visible over the past six years in self-promoted, renegade exhibitions and publications that have cropped up throughout London. Their aesthetically diverse and provocative artworks are united by a shared interest in ephemeral materials, unconventional presentation, and an anti-authoritarian stance that lends their objects a youthful, aggressive vitality.
Ranging in age from 22 to 35, most of the artists are graduates of a handful of London art schools (notably Goldsmiths' College and the Slade School of Fine Art), which have provided a fertile ground for the development of emerging artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the end of the 1980s, faced with a flattened art market and a sense that the aesthetic options open to them were extremely limited, these artists adopted an entrepreneurial attitude of collective self-promotion evident in such exhibitions as Freeze (1988), organized by then-Goldsmiths' student Damien Hirst and held in a rundown warehouse on the Surrey Docks of East London. A seminal event in this history, Freeze demonstrated the independence, self-reliance, and intense professionalism of these young students.
"Brilliant!" New Art from London will be comprised of approximately 100 works of widely diverse and hybrid media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video, photography, and CD-ROM by Henry Bond, Glenn Brown, Dinos Chapman, Jake Chapman, Adam Chodzko, Mat Collishaw, Tracey Emin, Angus Fairhurst, Anya Gallaccio, Liam Gillick, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Michael Landy, Abigail Lane, Sarah Lucas, Chris Ofili, Steven Pippin, Alessandro Raho, Georgina Starr, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gillian Wearing, and Rachel Whiteread.
Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst both share a relationship to Minimalism, but twist it back toward the social. Whiteread has come to prominence for her castings of the negative space of rooms, bathtubs, beds, and even a house. Her Untitled (Room) (1993), a cast of the interior of a room, recently earned her the much coveted Turner Prize. Also on view will be Hirst's The Acquired Inability to Escape, Inverted (1993), a large vitrine with an office desk, chair, and ashtray suspended from its ceiling. Providing a commentary on class structures in England, the business world is here invoked as a site of surveillance, exclusion, and suffocating conformity.
Photography and video also play a central role in "Brilliant!" New Art from London. On view will be the photographic series Documents (1991-1994) by Henry Bond and Liam Gillick, a collaborative photo-text installation archived in a filing cabinet with a card catalog to be used by the public in a library-like situation.