The End of the Young British Artists Movement

The trick with naming a movement the “Young British Artists” is that eventually that “Young” is going to age. The Guardian‘s Vanessa Thorpe is perhaps the first to issue an official statement that the heady days of the YBA, which made up of artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sam Taylor-Wood, are now over (well, the first along with Gregor Muir‘s recent book, Lucky Kunst: The Rise and Fall of Young British Art). Thorpe reports that the UK’s current art scene “appears to have turned its back on the ironic jokes and personal confessions” and instead “focusing on objects in the world around them.” While she finds that there’s still plenty of self-reference and high-concept jokes being used (artists are still artists, after all), the YBA’s influence seems to have dwindled to some degree and new artists who are being recognized throughout the country and internationally have, en masse, gotten a lot more serious. Not that this should do anything to damage the multi-million dollar careers of many of the top original YBAs, but even if Thorpe’s calculations happen to be off by a year or two, eventually the newness was bound to waiver and the attention would start to shift toward whatever’s next. Alternately, we can always just do like the Independent has and just slap the same old YBA title onto other artists.