When the painter Jenny Saville took piano lessons as a child, she was intrigued by her teacher’s breasts, the way they were pressed into a single mound by her blouse. When Saville’s uncle took her to museums, she was drawn to Titian’s fleshy women. “I just automatically pull out forms,” she has said. “It’s an instinct I’ve got as part of my nature.” The Cambridge-born painter, one of the Young British Artists—a group of painters and sculptors who emerged on the London gallery scene in the late 1980s—has spent her career exploring that childhood obsession with bodies. Her figures are wrought in thick frank smears of color that make their skin look alive. Now, her portraits are taking over Florence. Works dating to the 1990s, plus new paintings and drawings created for this sprawling exhibition, are on view in the city’s major museums: Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Museo di Casa Bunarroti, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, and Museo degli Innocenti. They appear alongside Renaissance works such as Michelangelo’s Genius of Victory. —J.D.
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