Charles Saatchi and the evolution of Young British Artists

Charles Saatchi Young British ArtistsIn the 1990s, art collector and advertising guru Charles Saatchi shifted his gaze and began to focus on the British talent emerging from the art world. Already a collector of Warhol, Katz and Kiefer amongst others, Saatchi’s new attraction would become the fuel that projected some of the most highly regarded contemporary British artists into the art world’s spotlight, as the creation and development of YBA (Young British Artists) came to light.


The first scent of what would become an enormous shift towards contemporary young artists came in the form of a group exhibition called Freeze. Formed of a collective of 16 Goldsmiths students, predominantly led by Damien Hirst, Freeze initially garnered little to no interest from commercial galleries, arguably, until the arrival and involvement of Charles Saatchi.

Having visited Freeze, Saatchi had sparked an interest, and subsequently visited another influential warehouse exhibition, this time Gambler consequently purchasing one of Hirst’s first ‘animal’ instillations, A Thousand Years, consisting of a rotting cow’s head encased in glass.

This would mark the beginning of Charles Saatchi and his championing of the Young British Artists. Shortly afterwards, Saatchi had become not only one of the most prominent collectors of Hirst’s work, but an avid sponsor of the YBA’s work as a whole, exhibiting their work and henceforth allowing the Young British Artists to grow and attain unprecedented media coverage, positive and negative, which dominated the art world.

Further Comment and Reading:

The Guardian

The Guardian