Exclusive Photo Feature: Jenny Saville Drawing At The Ashmolean Museum

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford is currently presenting the exhibition Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, this new show explores how the splendour of Venice and its shimmering light influenced artists, resulting in compelling portraits, atmospheric landscapes of exceptional beauty and sensuous figure studies – and is accompanied by a response from contemporary artist and YBA Jenny Saville.

Image: Jenny Saville, Drawing – a response to Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, 2015 photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

In this parallel exhibition, ‘Jenny Saville Drawing’, one of the UK’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Saville, has produced a new oeuvre of work on paper and canvas as a direct response to the powerful qualities of Venetian drawing. As the artist states; ‘Drawing has become an important way for me to study movement and therefore time – whether it’s a wrestling infant in a mother’s arms, couples embracing, a fight, or children digging in the sand.”

Jenny Saville, Drawing – a response to Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, 2015 photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

“It’s the part of Titian and Tintoretto that I’ve particularly been looking at. These drawings may not have the astonishing anatomy and draftsmanship of Michelangelo or Leonardo but they represent a moment in Venice when the materiality of drawing and expression come to the surface.”

Venetian art has long been associated with brilliant colours and free brushstrokes, but drawing has largely been written out of its history. For British artist Saville, the marks and traces of painting and drawing are interwoven. The artist depicts the relationship between the movement and musculature of the human body, and the movement of line and gesture through drawing. Narrow marks allude to the shape of forms, broader marks to their internal surfaces. Linear drawing and painterly values are fused.

Image: Jenny Saville, Drawing – a response to Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, 2015 photo P A Black © Artlyst 2015.

The works exhibited at the Ashmolean for the first time evoke Saville’s profound engagement with art history. The striking expressive and material qualities of drawings by Venetian artists such as Titian, Tintoretto or Palma Giovane have become catalysts for exploring the nature and power of drawing in thoughtful yet visceral new works on paper and canvas.

Image: Jenny Saville, Pastel Bodies, 2014. © Jenny Saville. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, a response to Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice, 2015.

About the artist:

Jenny Saville (born 7 May 1970) is a contemporary British painter associated with the Young British Artists. She is known for her large-scale painted depictions of nude women. Saville works and lives in Oxford, England. Saville went to the Glasgow School of Art (1988–1992), and was then awarded a six-month scholarship to the University of Cincinnati. Saville later emerged as a Young British Artist (YBA). Much of her work features distorted flesh, high-caliber brush strokes and patches of oil colour, while others reveal the surgeon’s mark of a plastic surgery operation. In 1994, Saville spent many hours observing plastic surgery operations in New York City.

Titian to Canaletto: Drawing in Venice – with a contemporary response by Jenny Saville – Ashmolean Museum Oxford – until 10 January 2016

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