1988 … Year zero

Administration (MBA) programmes churned out thousands

Process Overview:

schooled in a scientific approach to management.

“Managerialism is the belief that organisations have more similarities than differences, and thus the performance of all organisations can be optimised by the application of generic management skills and theory. To a practitioner of

managerialism, there is little difference in the skills required to run a college, an advertising agency or an oil rig. Experience and skills pertinent to an organisation’s core
business are considered secondary.”(

1988 furnishes an interesting – albeit failed – example of managerialism: the attempted takeover of Britain’s fourth largest bank by an advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. This agency was synonymous with the 1979 election of the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher herself, thanks to their ‘Labour isn’t working’ campaign poster and three successive Conservative victories. In 1988, Saatchi and Saatchi launched a takeover bid for the google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; Midland. The agency, created and controlled by brothers google_ad_height = 90; Charles and Maurice, were at the forefront of corporate takeovers using financial mechanisms that often deferred payment until future profits arrived. Their targets were not just other advertising agencies; they also bought management companies such as The Hay Group (1984) and Cleveland Consulting (1987). Unfortunately in 1988 the idea of an advertising company running a bank did not sit comfortably with The City; it was described in fact as “insane hubris” by //--> financial journalists. Its failure followed the stockmarket crash of 1987 and the resultant recession badly harmed the Saatchis’ reputation and would eventually see the two brothers depart from the company that bore their name.

The late 1980s also saw advertising agency revenues hit by further restrictions on cigarette promotion. Advertisers were unable to refer directly to the product or show people smoking it. It created a paradigm shift in the ad business that in some circles was compared to art, for it relied heavily on aesthetics and concepts placed indirectly in

the mind of the consumer. An example is purple silk juxtaposed against a pair of scissors or a gash; this was the code for Silk Cut cigarettes. Charles Saatchi had a long-standing interest in art; Saatchi and Saatchi had the Silk Cut account.

“Then, in 1988, Charles Saatchi left his wife [Doris Lockhart Saatchi]… Something of the nature of their divorce may be deduced from the fact that Charles Saatchi’s current entry in Who’s Who makes no reference to Doris Lockhart’s ever having even existed.” (Darwent, Charles. Pieces

from a confessional, The Independent, 18/10/1998.)

Lockhart is described as:

“a sophisticated woman who spoke several languages, knew a great deal about art and wine… She became known during their marriage as an art and design journalist, with particular knowledge of minimalism.”

1988 is also the year that the business philosophy of branding took hold. The influence of ‘brand equity mania’ would last decades. From footwear to footballers, everything could be branded, including art and artists. In business the defining moment

“…arrived in 1988, when Philip Morris purchased Kraft for $12.6 billion – six times what the company was worth on paper. The price difference, apparently, was the cost of the word ‘Kraft’. Of course Wall Street was aware that decades of marketing and brand bolstering added value to a company over and above its assets and total annual sales. But with the Kraft purchase, a huge dollar value had been assigned to something that had previously been abstract and unquantifiable – a brand name.” (Klein, Naomi. No Logo, Picador books, 1999.)

1988 is such a seminal year because of the changes not only in business practices but also in politics. After the cricket season had ended in England, I was wandering around the galleries of Europe while the Iron Lady made her Bruges speech on Britain’s relationship with Europe. This is widely seen as the birth of Conservative Euro-scepticism. As she travelled home, Margaret Thatcher read Sir Roy Griffiths’s report, commissioned by her government, on the National Health Service. It

was titled Community Care: Agenda for Action. Griffiths’s business expertise lay in supermarkets: he was vice-chairman of Sainsbury’s. However as a champion of managerialism, this report was to mark a change of direction in the way in which Britain administered psychiatric //--> care. Before Griffiths

“Mentally ill and mentally handicapped people were generally sent away to large forbidding institutions … many patients became worse rather than better and ‘institutionalised’.  However, there was, in a true sense, asylum for people who could be ‘strange’ in private.” (NHS History; see www.nhshistory.net/shorthistory.html)

After Griffiths, asylums and psychiatric wards were closed and responsibility for this type of care was transferred to local authorities, where case managers were waiting. The philosophy soon spread throughout the western world and a battle for language ensued. Patients became ‘clients’ and ‘stakeholders’, while ‘benchmarking’ and ‘quantitative reports’ and ‘qualitative reports’ were stacked high.

Coincidentally it is around this time that the authorities began to increase

students in London. Hirst organised the advertising and production and participated as an artist. One of his fellow students in the exhibition, Angus Fairhurst, wrote an essay afterwards: Some went mad and some ran away, the great majority stayed faithful until physical death. Hirst


used an edited version of this title for a curatorial project at the Serpentine Gallery in the early 1990s. Both artists were branded google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; Young British Artists (YBAs) and attracted support from Charles Saatchi, whose assistance led to fame and commercial success for Hirst and some other YBAs, though not Fairhurst. In March 2008, 20 years after he wrote his essay and on the last day of one of his few solo exhibitions,

Fairhurst ran away to Scotland, where, in a wood, he hanged himself.

Ever since Irving Stone’s 1934

understanding and appreciation of British art from the 16th century to the present day and of international modern and contemporary art.” (The Tate’s mission is drawn from the 1992 Museums and Galleries Act.)

We must acknowledge that the Tate is very successful at its mission. Its global influence is enormous and began back in the days of Empire (it opened in 1897) and is today next door to its financial equivalent, The City. In its own words, the Tate;

“… provides a platform from which you can speak to an audience of millions – opinion formers, industry leaders and consumers alike. Choose a Tate exhibition and together we can build a package to mirror your brand, ethos and style.” (Brand Building, Tate web site.)

We can take on board the notion that Kraft = cheese without too many qualms: however, a living artist as a brand does not sit so comfortably. Nor does it really tally with Hirst himself, who made his reputation as an anti-conformist while brands – by definition – conform. Damien Hirst is a set of irreconcilable ideas, a contradiction in terms.

Unless we think of him as a dead artist. Then it is much easier for us to accept him

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as a brand: his mission as an artist would be over and no work could come forth to contradict the established brand identity. So maybe, conceptually, Damien Hirst is dead. He did once say:

“‘No way. Museums are for dead artists. I’d never show my work in the Tate. You’d never get me in that place.’” (O’Hagan, Sean. Ibid..)

It is quite clear that Damien Hirst will continue to be a successful and internationally recognised artist. His retrospective at the Tate will ensure this, and will also make loadsa money. The figures will so impress the managerialists running


institutions across the globe that they will buy it in. This will please the Cameron government, who will see it as exporting cultural product; within a short period

of time, it will be as a blockbuster in other countries, including Australia. The Tate, the British government, the British Council will promote this work and Hirst will fly the flag of ‘Creative Britain’. But should we believe in this work when
one of the main protagonists, Frank Dunphy, has stated that Hirst’s work is simply a brand, and therefore could also be anti-art?

“I don’t give a damn” might be the reaction of any artist to criticism. Hirst the artist is under no obligation to explain himself on why he does what he does. The question that needs to be asked is why our art institutions, in particular the Tate, are not asking and exploring the science of Hirst, and examining how that reflects the era we have recently

lived through. After all, it is its mission to help us understand the work. But how can the Tate do this when it is intricately interlinked into the business of it?

Nobody can argue that Science Ltd, Damien

has been recast as a consumer, rather than as someone seeking greater knowledge and understanding of British art. The question is worth repeating; how can the Tate fulfil its
stated mission when it is intrinsically involved in the commercial exploitation of that same work?
Especially when considered in the light of its recent statements, viz:

“Our objective is to secure enough money to support our ambitions, aiming to increase the amount of self-generated income and to maximise grant-in-aid, combining entrepreneurial flair with strong financial management.” (2007-2008 Annual Report, Tate Gallery.)

But what are its ambitions? Recently it has wanted to expand physically and has created new spaces behind the Tate Modern by redeveloping old oil tanks connected to the former power station.

The oil tanks are the first phase of an expansion project that will eventually see another 10 floors built above them. After the Cultural Olympiad, they will be reopened periodically while work continues towards the planned overall opening