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Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection

DATES October 2, 1999 through January 9, 2000
COLLECTIONS Contemporary Art
  • April 1999: Brooklyn, NY, April 8, 1999. SENSATION: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, a defining exhibition of the last decade that includes approximately ninety paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations by forty-two artists, will be presented for the first time in the United States at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition, which attracted a record number of visitors and created considerable controversy in its inaugural presentation at the Royal Academy in London, will be on view at the Brooklyn Museum of Art from October 2, 1999, through January 9, 2000. It is the only presentation planned in this country at this time.

    Announcing the addition of SENSATION to the exhibition schedule, Brooklyn Museum of Art Director Arnold L. Lehman states, “From my first visit to this extraordinary exhibition in London, it has been a goal to make this material available to our audiences in New York. Reflective of the contemporary artistic energy and creativity in Great Britain, the exhibition contains important work that provokes, challenges, and rewards the viewer.”

    Among the forty-two artists represented is Damien Hirst, perhaps Britain’s best-known artist of this generation, who is now recognized throughout the world for his work composed of sections of animals, such as sharks, lambs, and cows, preserved and presented in sealed, formaldehyde-filled, glass containers. Also included will be work by the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, who explore a complex and bizarre world of sexual identity, transmutation, and commercialism with their childlike multi-bodied and multi-body-part figures. Jenny Saville, whose large, almost abstract paintings of overwhelmingly fleshy female forms recall both Rubens and Lucien Freud, challenges society’s notion of the ideal female form. Among the other artists whose work appears in SENSATION are Mona Hatoum, Sarah Lucas, Ron Mueck, Chris Ofili, Fiona Rae, and Rachel Whiteread. All of the objects were selected from works acquired in the 1990s by Charles Saatchi, one of the most important collectors of contemporary art in the world, whose private collection comprises approximately 1,500 works of art that vary in media and are individual in taste. As an early supporter of artists Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst, who have both won the prestigious Turner Prize, Charles Saatchi has always been a leader in collecting the work of young, emerging artists. SENSATION is an attempt to define a generation of artists and their diverse artistic visions. Although a link among many of the artists is the attention to the body and its cultural representation, the artists in the exhibition not only work in different artistic media, but often have few aesthetic or ideological positions in common. Themes to be found in the works in the exhibition are varied and include contemporary and pop culture, identity politics, feminism, cultural diversity and racism, mortality, memory, class, and social criticism. SENSATION attracted 300,000 people when it was shown at the Royal Academy in London late in 1997, and at the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin, where it recently closed, it was extended by a month to accommodate visitors from all over central Europe.

    BMA Curator of Contemporary Art Charlotta Kotik will coordinate the presentation of SENSATION at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Because of the number and size of the works of art in SENSATION, the exhibition will be installed in many areas of the Museum. It will occupy more than twenty thousand square feet of gallery space, including the fourth and fifth floors of the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, the Lobby Gallery on the first floor, and other parts of the Museum.

    SENSATION
    will be introduced on Thursday, September 30, with a press preview from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by a gala evening preview benefit. Many of the artists whose works are in SENSATION are expected to be present for both events. There will [be] a Members Preview day on Friday, October 1. The Museum also hopes to schedule a special event for Brooklyn artists.

    Admission will be by special untimed, undated ticket—cost to be announced— that may be purchased at the Museum’s admissions desk on a same-day basis. An audio guide with a celebrity narrator, as well as a number of the artists speaking about their work, is planned. Public programs related to the exhibition will include discussions, presentations, and gallery talks by younger New York artists; a program of films dealing with new art; and a series of British avant-garde films.

    The Brooklyn Museum of Art hopes to develop collaborative programming with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and its partners in the New Europe Consortium in connection with BAM’s presentation of New Europe 1999, a series of performances by young European artists throughout the United States in the fall 1999 and winter 2000 seasons. Although sponsorship is not complete at this time, presentation of SENSATION at the BMA has received support from Christie’s and from several individual donors. Additional funding from foundations, corporations, and individuals is being sought.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 01-06/1999, 030-32. View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3
  • September 27, 1999: Brooklyn, NY... Robert S. Rubin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, announced this evening that at the request of Schuyler Chapin, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, that he met with Commissioner Chapin and Corporation Counsel Michael Hess concerning ways to amicably resolve the dispute between the Brooklyn Museum of Art and Mayor Giuliani regarding SENSATION: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection. A number of possible resolutions were looked at, but there was and is no agreement of any kind. The Museum is planning to open SENSATION on Saturday as scheduled and as planned. The BMA remains committed to resolving the dispute, but the ideals of the institution are not on the bargaining table.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1999, 070. View Original
  • September 29, 1999: Brooklyn, New York, September 29, 1999 – In response to an announcement made this afternoon at City Hall, the Brooklyn Museum of Art released the following statement:
    For the Mayor to base today’s claim on a highly questionable piece of reporting in the New York Observer is preposterous and misleading. SENSATION has been presented at major museums around the world, and the artists in the show are internationally recognized for their outstanding contributions to contemporary art. The Mayor's latest charge simply reflects the depths to which he will go to undermine the First Amendment.


    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1999, 071. View Original
  • September 30, 1999: Program
    9:30 – 10:00
    Exhibition open for TV film crews only.

    10:00
    General broadcast and print news check-in.
    Press kits and catalogue/slide request forms available on the
    fifth floor.


    10:30 – 11:00
    Remarks in the fifth floor rotunda by:
    • Arnold L. Lehman, Director, Brooklyn Museum of Art
    • Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel
    • James A. Welu, American Association of Art Museum Directors
    • Reverend Herbert Daughtry, House of the Lord Church
    • Harvey Lichtenstein, Brooklyn Academy of Music Local Development Corporation

    11:00 – 1:00
    Exhibition tours, interview opportunities and additional filming.

    Refreshments will be served in the main lobby.


    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1999, 068. View Original
  • December 1999: SENSATION: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, a defining exhibition of the last decade, includes approximately ninety paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations by forty artists and will be presented for the only time in North America at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The exhibition, which attracted a record number of visitors in its inaugural presentation at the Royal Academy in London, will be on view at the BMA from October 2, 1999, through January 9, 2000.

    Partial sponsorship for SENSATION in both London and New York has been provided by Christie’s. Additional sponsor credits are in formation. Time Out New York is the media sponsor of this exhibition. BMA Curator of Contemporary Art Charlotta Kotik is coordinating the presentation of SENSATION at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

    Among the forty artists represented is Damien Hirst, perhaps Britain’s best-known artist of this generation, who is now recognized throughout the world for his work composed of animals, such as sharks, lambs, and cows, preserved and presented in sealed, formaldehyde-filled, glass containers. Also included will be work by the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman, who explore a complex and bizarre world of sexual identity, transmutation, and commercialism with their childlike multi-bodied and multi-body-part figures. Jenny Savile, whose large, almost abstract paintings of overwhelmingly fleshy female forms recall both Rubens and Lucian Freud, challenges society’s notion of the ideal female form. Among the other artists whose work appears in SENSATION are Mona Hatoum, Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, Ron Mueck, Chris Ofili, Richard Patterson, Fiona Rae, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Rachel Whiteread.

    All of the objects were selected from works acquired in the 1990s by Charles Saatchi, one of the most important collectors of contemporary art in the world, whose private collection comprises approximately 1,500 works of art that vary in media and are individual in taste. As an early supporter of artists Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst, who have both won the prestigious Turner Prize, Charles Saatchi has always been a leader in collecting young, emerging artists.

    SENSATION
    is an attempt to define a generation of artists and their diverse artistic visions. Although a link among many of the artists is the attention to the body and its cultural representation, the artists in the exhibition not only work in different artistic media, but often have few aesthetic or ideological positions in common. Themes to be found in the works in the exhibition are varied and include contemporary and pop culture, identity politics, feminism, cultural diversity and racism, mortality, memory, class, and social criticism.

    SENSATION attracted 300,000 people when it was shown at the Royal Academy in London late in 1997, and at the Hamburger Bahnhoff in Berlin, where it recently closed, it was extended by a month to accommodate visitors from all over central Europe.

    David Bowie will narrate the audio tour of the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s presentation of SENSATION, which will also include some of the artists speaking about their work. Laminated transcripts will be available for the hearing impaired and for visitors who prefer written material. Please note: The limitation on admission by persons under 17 has been eliminated. SENSATION includes material that some visitors may find objectionable. Viewer discretion and parental guidance are advised. Signs to this effect are posted throughout the Museum.

    Because of the number and size of the works of art in SENSATION, the exhibition will be installed in three primary areas of the Museum. It will occupy nearly 22,000 square feet of gallery space, including the fourth and fifth floors of the Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing and the European Painting Galleries on the fifth floor of the East Wing.

    SENSATION
    was introduced on Thursday, September 30, with a press preview from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., followed by a gala evening preview benefit. A number of the artists whose works are in SENSATION were present for both events. There was a Members Preview day on Friday October 1.

    Tickets to the exhibition may be purchased by calling toll free 1-87-SHARKBITE and at Museum admissions. Tickets are $9.75; older adults and students with valid college I.D. $7.75; ages 13-18 $6.75, free to children 12 and under.

    Public programs related to the exhibition will include a panel discussion on Sunday, October 16, at 3 p.m. Titled “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control? The Sensational and the Serious in Contemporary Art,” the panel will feature art historian and critic Donald Kuspit, artist and writer Rasheed Araeen, and critic Michael Corris, among others. Other programs will include artist talks throughout the exhibition, including a discussion with SENSATION artist Richard Patterson on Thursday, October 21, at 6 p.m., and a series of independent British films, Going Underground: British Independents and Beyond, shown on Sundays in November 1999.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 07-12/1999, 087-90 View Original 1 . View Original 2 . View Original 3 . View Original 4
  • March 27, 2000: The Brooklyn Museum of Art and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the City of New York have today agreed to end the litigation between them arising out of the Museum’s exhibition of “SENSATION: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection.” United States District Judge Nina Gershon, with the consent of all parties, entered a permanent injunction earlier today barring the City and the Mayor from punishing or retaliating against the Museum in any way as a result of the Museum’s decision to display the exhibition. All New York City funding previously allocated for the Museum will continue and an additional $5.8 million in capital funding for the Museum will be included in the Mayor’s upcoming executive budgets. The City has agreed to drop its state court action seeking to evict the Museum from its century-old home on Eastern Parkway and the Museum has dismissed its federal action against the City and Mayor Giuliani. The parties will each bear their own costs of the litigation.

    The Museum is extremely pleased with this resolution. The events of the past six months have only made our institution stronger and more dedicated to our mission of offering educational, innovative and exciting exhibitions of art to the people of the City of New York.

    I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the Museum’s friends for the tremendous outpouring of support we received during this challenging time. The dedication of our staff under the inspiring leadership of Director Arnold Lehman was heartwarming to me. The steadfastness and cohesiveness of our entire board made it possible to conclude this litigation successfully. I do not have enough words to express my appreciation for the outstanding professional efforts of our legal team led by Floyd Abrams and Susan Buckley of the Cahill Gordon firm and Sandy Lehrer and Bob Weiner of the McDermott, Will firm.

    Finally, it is most gratifying that as part of the settlement the Mayor has agreed to include $5.8 million in the executive budgets for the physical improvement of our building, joining with the City Council, the Brooklyn Borough President and the Museum in a project that truly represents what public-private cooperation can accomplish.

    Judge Gershon’s order speaks for itself and I am not going to further characterize it. We at the Museum are proud of what we have done, happy with this resolution, and are now eagerly looking forward to the future.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1995 - 2003. 2000, 039-40. View Original 1 . View Original 2