Young British Art: The Saatchi Decade

Booth-Clibborn Editions

This exhaustive book documents 10 years of the group of British artists who took Britain to the top of the art world.

The cover is homage to the Sex Pistols cover design by Jamie Reid of God Save The Queen, but features a barcode rather than a safety pin, a comment about some of the financial motivations of the art world at this time. The photograph used is an official portrait. Within the restrictions for image usage, it is stipulated that the picture must not be defaced in any form, we received no complaint so presumably a barcode over the Queen’s eyes is considered acceptable.

The introductory page features one of the most notorious paintings in the collection: Myra by Marcus Harvey a portrait of serial killer Myra Hindley, made up of children’s handprints. The painting was vandalised twice when included in the Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy and widely derided in the press. This is followed in the book with a portrait of Magaret Thatcher –  someone who defined the generation of artists whose work features in the book – either with her or against her. The style of the graphics used is the opposite of the minimal white, modernism seen in most of the commercial galleries that opened and prospered at the time. Instead the design uses primitive ASCII graphics with illustrations reminiscent of the kind of thing to be found as humour of office notice boards or emails.

The design caused Sarah Kent the well-known British art critic in a review of the book to thank Jonathan Barnbrook for throwing the whole of this generation down the toilet with his design.