Charles Saatchi – again but not as sweet


I came across an article in the Times today about the Saatchi Gallery’s show of the latest young British talent titled “Newspeak” which is currently showing in St Petersburg and will be transferring to the Saatchi Gallery in London next summer.

Anthony Gardner suggests that although Charles Saatchi is very intuitive in identifying new talent very early on and buying from young dealers. He also supports early sales of an artist. However he then goes on to quote Bridget Brown an art advisor that “It isn’t simply a question of a collector buying low and selling high — an awful lot goes on in between, with dealers working very carefully to develop artists’ careers. Critics, museum directors and curators all play a huge part.” Gardner says that “Hirst may have risen faster than most, but this was thanks to his business sense and genius for self-promotion rather than any Saatchi-assisted short cuts.”

The article is worth reading for mini interviews with six of the artists who are in the “Newspeak” exhibition, explaining their relationship with Saatchi and this exhibition. It doesn’t seem as easy a route as one might imagine, there are some pitfalls associated with this enigmatic collector.

Charles Saatchi Tells It As He Sees It


On Monday, August 31st Charles Saatchi’s book will be released by Phaidon.  It is titled “My Name is Charles Saatchi and I Am an Artoholic” (Everything  you need to know about art, ads, life, God and other mysteries – and weren’t afraid to ask……)

Amazon describes the book thus:

Art collector, gallery owner and founder of a global advertising agency, Charles Saatchi is famously publicity-shy, a reluctant interviewee who never attends his own gallery openings, let alone anyone else’s. This book brings together his unflinching responses to questions he has been set over the last few years by leading journalists and critics as well as members of the public. Whether the questions are related to art, advertising, money or his personal life, Saatchi answers them all with disarming and sometimes brutal frankness, creating an enlightening and entertaining first-hand account of the most influential art collector of our time.

A sample of the questions and answers appear in the Guardian.  Some answers I disagree with such as “Art collectors are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things. What matters and survives is the art.”  The problem is, that the art that survives is usually what the major art collectors pick and donate to museums.  

However other answers, I think are really well thought out and spot-on.  “I buy art that I like. I buy it to show it off in exhibitions. Then, if I feel like it, I sell it and buy more art.”  “Much more important is to back living artists (that saving old masters for the nation).”

Many of his answers are very glib but from an interview in The Times that I posted back in March, I’ve come to realize he is a man who doesn’t really care what other people think, he does what he wants to do, what he thinks is the right thing to do.  I may not always agree with him, but I think he’s an intriguing individual that I’d like sit and chat to one day soon.

Top 200 20th Century Artists



1.4 million people voted for in the London Times Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century, which was organized in conjunction with The Saatchi Gallery.  


Unsurprisingly, Pablo Picasso won the competition with 21587 votes, nearly 500 more votes than 2nd place Paul Cezanne. Gustav Klimt was a surprising 3rd place followed by a more expected Claude Monet and Marcel Duchamp. All of these early European artists have been dead for more than 35 years or more.


The first American artist in the list is Jackson Pollock at 7th place and the first living artist on the list is another American, Jasper Johns at 19th place.


The top female artist was Frieda Kahlo, probably there in part because of the success of the movie of her life.  


The online version of the list has a good review of the list, but is not attributed to anyone.  It starts:


“At first glance, the results of this poll may seem rather predictable — but the longer you look, the more telling the quirks and anomalies become. This is precisely its point. It’s not there to agree with. It is there to argue against.”


For me, what is really intriguing are the artists who made it into the 200, but were towards the bottom of the list.  I was surprised to see that there were over 2000 people who knew Marsden Hartley in England let alone thought that he was the greatest artist of the 20th Century.


Who would you have chosen as your most important/influential artist of the 20th Century?  

It’s not about the sex anymore?


Tracey Emin (born 1963 ) is a British artist who is a leading member of the group known as the YBAs (Young British Artists) – although most are now in their 40s. They are conceptual artists who gained fame (or notoriety) in the 1990s for their shock tactic art. They were sponsored by Charles Saatchi at a time similar to these, when the contemporary art market in London had collapsed due to a major economic recession, and many commercial contemporary galleries had gone out of business.

Emin’s is known for her overtly sexual and provocative work. She creates paintings, drawings, videos, installations, photography, needlework neon and sculptures. White Cube who currently represents her suggests that in her work “she reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in candid and often excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.” Much of her work is said to be autobiographical with heavy focus on her disturbing sexual history.

Some of her most notorious works includes “My Bed” which was shortlisted for the Turner Prize consisting of her bed with yellow stained sheets covered in detritus such as condoms, cigarettes, underpants with blood stains and other garbage. Another is “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995” which was a blue tent which had names of everyone she has slept with appliquéd on the inside.

Her current show at White Cube has as its central piece a looped animation of 150 drawings that depicts a woman masturbating.

So this sexual exhibitionist; the ‘Bad Girl of British art” is now suggesting that sex is no longer her inspiration. In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper of London she said “It always was about sex, not money,” she said. “Sex was what held me in bed and got me out of it again in the morning. But now it’s fading fast. I don’t have the same craziness about sex that I had – I’m more interested in ideas.”

Having used sex as the basis for most of her work and gained fame/notoriety on the back of it, will there be anything left worth collecting for the impressive honor roll of superstars of the entertainment, business and art world who have long collected her work? Will the grown up Emin be as creative and revered?
The exhibition at White Cube Gallery, London titled “Tracey Emin: Those Who Suffer Love”, runs from 29 May to 4 July.