Synopses & Reviews
The first inside account of the rise of Britain’s most notorious modern art movement is a hilarious, picaresque chronicle of dissoluteness, drunkenness, and epically bad behavior Today artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and the Chapman brothers are not only big business but also, quite simply, celebrities. But they rose from obscurity back in the 1980s and 1990s in a then-semi-derelict part of east London by visiting upon the art world a set of artworks as outlandish and attention-seeking—not to mention scatological—as their general behavior. This is the first account of how the YBAs (Young British Artists) came about, by the group’s only "embedded journalist"—an outrageously comic tale of White Cube gallery openings, fights in pubs, vomiting into fountains and, eventually, the breakthrough 1997 exhibition Sensation which later toured to New York and was criticized by Guiliani. Throughout, Gregor Muir was there.
'This lucid, lurid, indiscreet memoir is an unrivalled record of 1990s Cool Britannia, when British Art ruled the world' Financial Times 'An absorbing and intelligent account of the times, this is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary art or the 1990s Brit Scene' - The Bookseller
'I think Gregor's anecdotal journey of 10 years in the British art world is a fantastic historical document...his book describes those defining moments so well.' -Tracey Emin The Independent
'Sharply atmospheric...a picaresque journey, a fly-in-the-vitrine's-eye view of the period' - Hermione Eyre New Statesman
'All the stars of the YBA movement appear in this former journalists memoir, swearing and yelling as they go' -- Matthew Collings Observer Review
These days artists like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin are major celebrities. But Gregor Muir knew them at the start; his unique memoir chronicles the birth of Young British Art. Muir, YBAs ‘embedded journalist, happened to be in Shoreditch and Hoxton before Jay Jopling arrived with his White Cube Gallery, when this was still a semi-derelict landscape of grotty pubs and squats. There he witnessed, amid a whirl of drunkenness, scrapes and riotous hedonism, the coming-together of a remarkable array of young artists - Hirst, the Chapman brothers, Rachel Whiteread, Sam Taylor-Wood, Angus Fairhurst - who went on to produce a fresh, irreverent, often notorious form of art - Hirsts shark, Sarah Lucass two fried eggs and a kebab. By the time of the seminal Sensation show at the Royal Academy YBA had changed the art world for ever.
About the Author
Gregor Muir is the Executive Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. Previously, he has been director of Hauser and Wirth (London), the contemporary art gallery, and Kramlich Curator of Contemporary Art at the Tate where he curated several exhibitions and museum displays, and was responsible for numerous acquisitions of contemporary art for Tate Collections. Muir curated YBA group shows such as `Lucky Kunst' and `Liar'. He has been a critic and writer for various cutting-edge publications such as Dazed and Confused, Parkett and Frieze magazine.