Charles Saatchi on Art World

It’s a story that has been cherished in British artistic circles. Charles Saatchi in one of his rare interviews (The Art Newspaper) has been asked how he sees the contemporary Art World. He answered, in his usual way, with a teasing, sharp-edged tale about a game, he would play with his friend, an art critic…

The game goes like this: Considering, that you are stuck on a deserted island with a representative of one of these: the critics, dealers, collectors, curators and artists – who would be the least welcomed companion of yours? And the answer goes, respectively – from the least welcomed:

The Dealers: Pompous, power-hungry and patronising, these doyens of good taste would seem to be better suited to manning the door of a night-club, approving who will be allowed through the velvet ropes.

The Critics : The art critics on some of Britain’s newspapers could as easily have been assigned gardening or travel, and been cheerfully employed for life. (these) critics swooning with delight about an artist’s work when its respectability has been confirmed by consensus and a top-drawer show – the same artist’s work that 10 years earlier they ignored or ridiculed. They must live in dread of some mean sod bringing out their old cuttings. However – when a critic knows what she or he is looking at and writes revealingly about it, it’s sublime.

The Curators: With very few exceptions, the big-name globetrotting international mega-event curators are too prone to curate clutching their PC guidebook in one hand and their Bluffers Notes on art theory in the other. (…) These dead-eyed, soulless, rent-a-curator exhibitions dominate the art landscape with their socio-political pretensions. The familiar grind of 70’s conceptualist retreads, the dry as dust photo and text panels, the production line of banal and impenetrable installations, the hushed and darkened rooms with their interchangeable flickering videos are the hallmarks of a decade of numbing right-on curatordom.

The Collectors: However suspect their motivation, however social-climbing their agenda, however vacuous their interest in decorating their walls, I am beguiled by the fact that rich folk everywhere now choose to collect contemporary art rather than racehorses, vintage cars, jewellery or yachts. Without them, the art world would be run by the State, in a utopian world of apparatchik-approved, Culture-Ministry-sanctioned art. So if I had to choose between Mr and Mrs Goldfarb’s choice of art or some bureaucrat who would otherwise be producing VAT forms, I’ll take the Goldfarbs.

The Artists: If you study a great work of art, you’ll probably find the artist was a kind of genius. And geniuses are different to you and me. So let’s have no talk of temperamental, self-absorbed and petulant babies. Being a good artist is the toughest job you could pick, and you have to be a little nuts to take it on. I love them all


Guess, that affection is reciprocal. It’s more than extremely difficult to find an authentic art passionate these days, who – with an intelligence, insight, devotion and talent takes care of the art as it is ‘now’, supporting the ‘new’ and ’emerging’; some of Saatchi’s choices and moves made him ‘persona non grata’ in all the circles of the artistic world – from dealers to artists; yet – what is undeniable and impressive is the strength of his belief and love for good art, for which he will be known beyond his lifespan.

Visit Saatchi’s Gallery web-page – one of the most welcoming, professionaly kept pages of this kind.


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

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