Saturday 13 September 1997
"Sensation" - the Royal Academy's grand survey of "young British art" which opens later this week, wasn't the exhibition that the Academy had originally planned for the autumn. It was to have been "The Age of Modernism", a blockbusting overview of 20th-century art which, sadly, proved too expensive to bring from Berlin to London. So, instead of Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Malevich and almost any other modern artist of note, we have the assembled young guns of the current British scene.
Put like this it's hard not to feel a little hard done by the change of plan, especially as "Sensation" contains very little new work and nothing that doesn't belong to Mr Charles Saatchi; but that said, the Academy's exhibition will provide London with a welcome chance to take proper stock of the recent Brit-art success story.
There are 110 works in all by 43 different artists in every conceivable media. Damien Hirst is there, of course, represented by a menagerie of pickled sharks, cows, lambs and pigs, as is Tracey Emin represented by her now-famous tent stitched with the names of Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995. Then there's Sarah Lucas's Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab and the more poetic (if only as far as the title is concerned) Au Naturel; a tableau of boy and girl body parts made out of a cucumber and two oranges (boy) and two melons and a bucket (girl).
It's strange to think that just one man owns such a chunk of the careers of so many, but whatever one makes of his taste - not to mention the wholesale methods of his collecting - we should be grateful to Saatchi for letting us have a look, and to the Academy for bringing the exhibition about.
EYE ON THE NEW Not surprisingly, most of the commercial galleries who represent "Sensation" artists have seized the chance to mount complimentary shows. Best title goes to the Victoria Miro Gallery for "Minor Sensation", an update on the careers of Jake and Dinos Chapman, Chris Ofili and Abigail Lane, at 21 Cork Street, London W 1 (0171-734 5082) to 17 Oct
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