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Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
Pop goes the Portrait Gallery
Sarah Lucas
Sarah Lucas' self-portrait with banana
The National Portrait Gallery has acquired new works by a trio of Britain's most talented artists.

The gallery has unveiled Julian Opie's portraits of pop group Blur as well as self-portraits by two of Britain's most important female artists, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas.

 Graham Coxon
Opie's portrait of Graham Coxon
Opie's portraits of Blur were acquired as a gift from the National Art Collections Fund with the support of the Lisson Gallery.

Unusually, the portrait - divided into four images - was commissioned for the cover of the band's greatest hits album and is well-known by fans of the band.

Visual puns

The four images are "digital drawings" of the members of the British band.

Twelve works by Sarah Lucas are included, amoing them a black and white image of her eating a banana. A graduate of Goldsmiths, her work is notable for her visual puns which examine gender stereotypes.

Tracey Emin
Emin's work is based on self-exploration
Tracey Emin is well-known for the division she has created within artistic circles and is best known in the wider arena for her exhibition of her unmade bed which was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.

Much of Tracey Emin's work is based on images of herself and her portrait is a stark image of herself crouched on the floor in the nude.

Charles Saumarez Smith, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said: "During the past year the trustees of the National Portrait Gallery have made good the lack of any systematic coverage of the [Young British Artists] YBA movement in British art by making a small number of strategic acquisitions.

"These include the group portrait of Blur, which is unusual in terms of the Gallery's collection in being an image which already has a high level of recognition in mainstream popular culture."

See also:

16 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Tracey makes a pile
25 Apr 01 | Arts
Emin's new show gets personal
20 Jun 01 | Arts
Artists and models
21 Dec 01 | Entertainment
Artist's 1m works left to the nation
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