The “enfants terribles”, the YBAs (Young British Artists), created scandal in the Nineties with their provocative, headline-grabbing works. So, must artists simply find a way to shock in order to make a name for themselves today? What direction is contemporary art heading in as the end of the Noughties approaches, and where is the new talent who will shape the art world for the next decade?
To find out, Charles Saatchi, the powerful art world supremo, is looking for the next generation of creatives. Throughout this new series, he selects six unknown artists and sets them up in their own East London studio for 10 weeks. To develop their talents, they are commissioned to make a series of ambitious artworks and will meet leading figures from the art world.
Saatchi will, ultimately, select just one artist’s work to join his exhibition, Newspeak – British Art Now, at the Hermitage Gallery in St Petersburg, and has also arranged for them to receive their own studio space for three years.
The series explores the often-controversial subject of contemporary art and what substance, if any, actually lies behind the hype. It offers a unique look into the workings of the art world today while giving a fascinating insight into the creative process that goes into developing the art.
In today’s opener, a shortlist of applicants bring their work to a London warehouse for scrutiny by the panel – artist Tracey Emin, critic and broadcaster Matthew Collings, art collector Frank Cohen and Barbican curator Kate Bush. They are confronted by an array of bizarre and wondrous work that constitutes contemporary art today.
They choose 12, who will exhibit their work for Saatchi himself, from which six artists will then be picked. During the final selection stage, the panel question them about their work and task them with doing a seemingly straight-forward life drawing.
Next week, the hard work begins when the chosen artists are required to create a large-scale public art commission in a traditional seaside town, following in the footsteps of some of Britain’s greatest sea artists, such as JMW Turner and modern public sculptors including Antony Gormley.
Monday 23 November
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO