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Provocative new American art show opens at London's Royal Academy

Provocative new American art show opens at London's Royal Academy

Sex, violence, politics, religion and body parts _ art collector Charles Saatchi's new exhibition of work by young American artists has all the makings of the kind of explosive controversy his 1997 show "Sensation" set off.
The paintings, sculptures and installations in "USA Today," opening Friday at London's Royal Academy of Arts, are often shocking. But it's not yet clear whether the show will be as successful as the blockbuster "Sensation."
That exhibition prompted a political firestorm in New York when it moved there in 1999. Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was so offended by a portrait of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung that he temporarily cut off funding to the Brooklyn Museum.
"USA Today" curator Norman Rosenthal said some of work in the new show was "quite hard-hitting. ... The Sodom and Gomorrah aspect of America is very present in this exhibition."
Wangechi Mutu's series of faces, "Uterine Catarrh," is a collage of body parts, featuring female genitalia.
One wall displays 45 framed newspaper cuttings about police corruption, which creator Dash Snow sprayed with semen.
Barnaby Furnas' painting "Duel" portrays two men inches (centimeters) apart shooting at each other. The canvas is covered with fireworks and large blood red splotches.
Rosenthal said that when Saatchi approached him about the possibility of the show, he began speaking with artists and collectors about it.
"I began to get the feeling something is going on in America that ought to be shared with people," he said.
In Jules de Balincourt's "U.S. World Studies II," a stylized map of the United States is presented upside down, Texas at the top, with politically left-leaning states split from right-leaning ones.
A second map shows the amounts that Wal-Mart, Target and other corporations donated to the Republican Party for the 2004 election.
"I did these right after the election," said de Balincourt, of Brooklyn, New York. "There was such a grand gush of anti-war, anti-(U.S. President George W.) Bush feeling."
Jonathan Pylypchuk's anti-war statement fills a small room.
"Hopefully, I Will Live Through This with Some Dignity" is a collection of small military figures grouped around a brown mound. Many of the figures have obvious injuries. Others are vomiting or dead.
Equally striking is Huma Bhabha's untitled figure of a woman in a burqa, or full-body Muslim covering, bent on the ground in prayer. Only her clay hands are visible, and the burqa is made of black plastic, evoking a body bag.
The exhibition almost didn't happen.
Five weeks ago, the Burlington Gardens wing of the Royal Academy, where it is housed, was gutted by fire _ water covered the floor, and part of the roof collapsed.
Teams of workers labored 24 hours a day to refurbish the galleries and install the art, Rosenthal said. The exhibit runs through Nov. 4.


Updated : 2021-04-18 05:37 GMT+08:00