Cool Britannia: The Young British Artists

April 2 – September 30, 2020
Palm Desert, CA


This online exclusive exhibition draws across all of Heather James’s galleries to showcase the art of the Young British Artists. Also called YBAs, these artists emerged in the 1990s through their shocking artwork underpinned by radical new approaches to art making. This exhibition brings together a small selection of some of the most prominent YBAs.

The exhibition takes its name from the wave of British pop culture during the 1990s, which in many ways recalled the cultural British invasion of the 1960s. Britpop groups like Blue, Oasis, and the Spice Girls, fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, British movies including “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Notting Hill”, actors like Hugh Grant, and even sports stars flooded the worldwide stage.

Alongside this wave of youth culture arose the YBAs. This loose association of artists comprised a core group that studied together at Goldsmiths in London. These artists doggedly put together exhibitions wherever they could and astutely promoted themselves. The most famous was Damien Hirst and his landmark exhibition “Freeze” which showcased his fellow Goldsmiths graduates. Rebellious and insouciant, these artists revitalized the British art scene. As they have moved from outsiders to establishment, they continue to influence the art world and generations of artists.

Featured in this exhibition are:

Damien Hirst is probably one of the most famous of the YBAs. His art examines the intersection of life, death, commerce, temporality, and permanence. The exhibition features one of his iconic butterfly paintings.

Gary Hume utilizes household paints to create artworks of intense color. His paintings explore deep emotions. This tension between profound meaning and glossy surface creates a dynamic energy.

Marc Quinn is one of the most influential members of the YBAs. A multidisciplinary artist, Quinn’s output blurs the boundaries of art, science, and technology along with issues of corporeality, decay, and preservation.

Rachel Whiteread is one of the most celebrated sculptors and the first woman to win the Turner Prize. Her artwork explores architecture by making the invisible visible, revealing memories and meaning in our surroundings.