Pickled sheep for New York

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The Independent Online
FIRST they caused a Sensation in London. Now the Young British Artists are set to take New York. Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread, Sarah Lucas and Gary Hume are among the "Britpack" stars American high society is clamouring to meet this autumn.

As a pounds 75 book recording 10 years of Charles Saatchi's pioneering contemporary art collection is published in London this week, the United States is preparing to welcome the Saatchi phenomenon.

Sensation, the exhibition of Saatchi works which caused protests, paint- throwing and resignations at the Royal Academy in London two years ago, is to be presented at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York in October.

Jenny Blyth, Mr Saatchi's curator in London, said yesterday: "Brooklyn Museum will be the first chance for many Americans to see key works from this ground-breaking era."

A museum insider reported "excitement verging on hysteria" at the prospect of the biggest show in the museum's 102-year- old history, covering 20,000 square feet.

Arnold Lehman, the museum's director, was in London on Friday to finalise details of the transfer and expects the gala opening, with many of the British artists in attendance, to be a highlight of the New York season.

He said it had been his goal to make the works available to his New York audiences from the first time he saw the "extraordinary" Sensation exhibition in London.

"I was almost literally knocked over by what I would describe as the critical mass of all of these artists in one place at one time, giving this incredible power to almost a decade of British art. It was overwhelming."

He said Americans were aware of the public response to the Royal Academy show, which included Marcus Harvey's controversial portrait of the child- killer Myra Hindley, which came under physical attack. They were keen to make up their own minds about the very high international profile of contemporary British art.

"I think people not only want to see the art, but they want to know what that [fuss] was all about," he said. The Sensation exhibition drew 300,000 people in London and was extended by a month in Berlin, where it recently closed. After New York, it will move on to Australia.

Sensation will be opening in America just as the Young British Artists have begun to change tack in Britain.

The new book on Young British Art, subtitled "the Saatchi decade" and published this week by Booth-Clibborn Editions, ends with works from the New Neurotic Realists - the title of the current contemporary British show at Saatchi's north London public gallery which was the first in years not to go under the YBA tag.

Jenny Blyth, the gallery's curator, said: "We're already in discussions about Sensation Two because the post-Sensation era has thrown up a completely new generation of Young British Artists."

The new generation marked a shift from artists who were "predominantly conceptual and confrontational", such as Hirst, to a "lighter but obsessive pre-occupation with more traditional form". Artists such as Dexter Dalwood paint pictures of places such as the Queen's bedroom while Ron Mueck painstakingly inserts hair into hyper-real figures made of silicone rubber or polyester resin. However, Miss Blyth said: "We do still continue to admire the work of the original Young British Artists and have recently bought new pieces by Damien Hirst, Jenny Saville, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Gary Hume and Chris Ofili."

Edward Booth-Clibborn, the publisher who suggested to Charles Saatchi that highlights of his collection should be brought together in one volume, said he hoped the art world and the public would find the result valuable.

Despite the pounds 75 price tag, he expects worldwide interest in the initial 12,000 print run.

The volume takes a chronological approach, placing images of key works of art alongside the media coverage and political events of each year. Mr Booth-Clibborn said Charles Saatchi seemed surprised when he suggested the enormous project.

"I think he was very amazed, but we are very good at doing big books."