YBA: Lucky Kunst

I have always found myself completely fascinated by Conceptual Arts and the Young British Art movement. The very nature of this kind of work fuels my thirst to delve deeper into the misunderstood world of contemporary art. Muir’s effortless portrayal of this very era allows us a one off time travel ticket to play amongst all the debauchery.

Gregor Muir’s  Lucky Kunst is a personal and somewhat gritty experience of the ‘Rise and Fall of Young British Art’. Muir tells the story, firsthand, of the hedonistic bunch bred from Goldsmiths College in the 80’s, and their disheveled but lurid journey into the 90’s, evolving through a haze into the generation of the YBA’s.

The book features all the libertine stars of the YBA movement; Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Rachel Whiteread, Jay Jopling and of course Charles Saatchi, amongst others. Muir, with a little self-indulgence, reminisces on how the gauche bunch created both shock and art, ultimately shaping the future of contemporary art while securing their names on many a gallery wall.

Muir reflects upon what first captivated his curiosity and inspired him to follow the YBA squad around London. This came in the form of Hirst’s perturbing piece, ‘A Thousand Years’ (1990). In short, this crude yet enthralling art work shows us an actual life cycle. Housed in a huge glass and steel vitrine are maggots feeding on a sugary substance. As in nature, maggots hatch into flies, these are consequently seduced by the stench of a severed cow’s head on the floor at the opposite end of this death chamber. Also waiting next to the ‘food’ is an insect-o-cutor; zapp and the life cycle is over. Seeing this first hand, after composing myself from the initial shock, I too would feel rather compelled to discover what lay around the corner.

I am not sure if admiration is the right word, but I certainly have an irrefutable appreciation for the artists who took the steps and created this generation of magnificently shocking, contemporary works. The concepts behind the closed doors captivate me, and I find myself increasingly drawn to these particular movements. Perhaps it’s the avant-guard nature, or the complete intent to shock and create questions that keeps me hooked. Conceptual art, as I see it, has no esteemed hierarchy in which to bow down to, therefor what is created is something quite multi dimensional. We are presented with something to look at from a thousand different angles. Pieces are emotionally provocative. They force us to devise our own opinions and answer the question, without preconceived delivery, ‘What does this really portray?’. However ‘art’ may have changed, the fundamentals remain the same; it is a personal expression, though a far cry from a perfect figure, shining in oil on canvas, this is art never the less.


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