Supercollector: Charles Saatchi the bad man

src="" alt="" width="300" height="300" srcset=" 300w, 150w, 800w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Charles Thomson reviews the unexpurgated life story of Charles Saatchi.

“Ad man


you’re a bad man”, proclaimed the artist collective Bank bluntly about Charles Saatchi in 1997. In 2004, Guardian art
critic, Adrian Searle, praised Saatchi’s popularist approach, eye and humour in his New
Blood show, but drubbed the curatorial incoherence. Sir Peter Blake has refused src="//"> to sell his work to Saatchi because, “I formed the opinion very early on that he wasn’t google_ad_slot = "8637400688"; collecting for the love of art”. Victoria Miro commended Saatchi’s “passion for looking at art”, and Jonathan Jones of the Guardian lauded Saatchi’s “empathy for youth” and his “obsession with the contemporary”, while an anonymous writer in Art Review  (actually David Lee, its then editor) wrote him off as “a commodity trader in art futures”.

Virtually anything Saatchi has done has had vociferous detractors and supporters, though probably more of

than the latter, especially as the years
have gone on. Their views are assiduously documented by Rita Hatton and John A. Walker in the book, Supercollector: A Critique of Charles Saatchi, which first appeared in 2000, a time when Saatchi

advertising agency with 400 offices, 10,000 clients

factual narrative, which comprises most of the book, details his entry into
advertising and the growth of the brothers’ business, along with his increasing focus on art, though it does not illumine exactly how the Saatchis managed to


such business success, nor point out that it was

potentially achievable by anyone who made it their goal and had sufficient acumen and driving force.

Regardless of what one thinks of Saatchi, a cumulative

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effect of the book’s narrative is to convey the staggering amount that he has achieved, particularly
in terms of


the variety and number of shows
and artists bought (and sold) and exhibited over the years. By 2004, he owned 2,500 artworks with a value of


around £50 million. The book clearly makes the link between the ephemerality and superficiality of advertising and the same

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quality in much of the work Saatchi promotes,
especially its “arid intellectualism”.

One of Walker and Hatton’s most potent google_ad_width = 970; judgments is “When one man decides everything, democratic control and accountability

diminishes and the arts

become over-dependent on the whims of an individual.” However, their alternative suggestion that “Improved state src="//"> funding of art schools and public museums would have prevented much damage from taking place” is google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; less convincing – especially when the policies of
the Arts Council and the Tate are considered – than Saatchi’s contention that without rich collectors “the art world would be run by the state, in a utopian world of apparatchik-approved, culture ministry sanctioned art.” Surely, /* xin2 */ what is lacking //--> is a number


of independently minded major collectors with different