“Half of them have slept with each other,” says Michael Craig-Martin, a professor at Goldsmiths, about the Young British Artists (a k a YBAs), a group of students whose work he helped foster, in a new video by TateShots, “Michael Craig-Martin: Educating Damien.” Mr. Craig-Martin should know. He worked closely with the whole horny and artful bunch, which included Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, who broke out into the art world in the 1988 exhibition “Freeze,” organized by Mr. Hirst.
As Mr. Craig-Martin saunters around Mr. Hirst’s current Tate Modern retrospective, he mentally returns to that period, when he noticed something different about this class of students from any of the other classes he’d taught since starting there in 1973-74. “There was a chemistry, very unusual chemistry between them. They were very fond of each other…it was very intimate.”
And while Mr. Craig-Martin thinks of the spot paintings as “the beginning” for Mr. Hirst, the one he thought was “the most important, most extraordinary work that Damien ever did,” was another. Also, check out the live butterfly that lands on Mr. Craig-Martin’s head, like some trompe-l’œil hat by Elsa Schiaparelli. It’s a fun little film.