Artoholic

Snippets from Charles Saatchi’s
My Name Is Charles Saatchi And I Am An Artoholic
I agree with everything he says, but these are the bits I agree with the most, he could have plucked the words right out of my mouth, only he’s said it better and more mercilessly.

Does love of art, particularly Renaissance art on a biblical theme, make one feel closer to God?

I believe God must be very disappointed in his handiwork. Mankind has clearly failed to evolve much in all these years; we’re still as cretinous and barbaric as we were many centuries ago, and poor God must spend all day shaking his head at our vileness and general ineptitude.

On infinity

My understanding of infinity goes something like this: Every 100 years a sparrow flies to the top of a large mountain, and cleans its beak by scraping it on the highest rock. By the time the mountain has been scraped away to a small pile of dust, that would be the equivalent of the first second of infinity.

You’ve been successful at discovering new artistic talent. But are there not always great artists who go undiscovered?

By and large talent is in such short supply, mediocrity can be taken for brilliance rather more than genius can go undiscovered.

On leaving a legacy

I don’t buy art in order to leave a mark or to be remembered; clutching at immortality is of zero interest to anyone sane.

On art 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. This is because many newspaper editors don’t themselves have much time to study their ‘Review’ section, or have much interest in art. So we now enjoy the spectacle of 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 ten years earlier they ignored or ridiculed.

exactly the same situation for anyone reviewing the arts here (not that we have much to review).

What makes you laugh?

Do you think me glum because I always look cross in press photos? I’m sorry, it’s just the way my face sets. But I always think that people with little sense of humour laugh most easily.

Oh my goodness it’s like he’s lived with the natives or something.

Your first wife is on record as saying that she only ever saw you reading comic books. Have you ever actually read a book? And if so, what was it?

Are you asking if I’m thick? I suppose I am rather, but that doesn’t seem to hamper a career in advertising. And obviously, you can be as thick as a brick to buy art all day long.

Should the country be spending money on saving Old Masters for the nation, or buying up works by the next generation of artists?

At the risk of being lynched – again – by the art crowd, I don’t think there is a great need any more to save paintings for the nation at the cost of supporting new art. What difference does it make if a Titian is hanging in the National Gallery, the Louvre or the Uffizi? This isn’t the 18th century: people travel, so there’s no need to be nationalistic about the world’s art treasures. Much more important is to back living artists.

On advertising

I recommend advertising to all, especially if you have no apparent academic skills. It’s easy money, and whatever small abilities you have can be put to good use somewhere in an ad agency.

What would you want on your epitaph?

Just how dull do you think I am? What kind of twat is interested in epitaphs or legacies?

Do you care what people think?

Everyone cares what some people think, but luckily I seem to care less than most.

Are you comfortable with Liu Wei’s ‘Indigestion II’?

I don’t think the artist intended people to feel comfortable looking at a giant poo. He’s not an interior decorator

You famously created the slogan ‘Labour isn’t Working’. Were you a Tory? Are you a Tory?

I once also threw myself into the Health Department’s Anti-Smoking campaign, visited emphysema wards, studied pictures of cancerous lungs, and came up with the grisliest copy I could – puffing away happily as I wrote. How sweet of you to think that advertising copy is written from the heart.

Has photography rendered figurative art pointless?

No art is pointless. I had that Immanuel Kant round for a bit of a chin-wag the other day and he told me that the meaning of art was that it had no function.

Of the contemporary artists who died young – Jean Michel Basquiat, Eva Hesse, Felix Gonzalez-Torres – who do you think would have achieved long term greatness?

Without being too callous, many artists achieve iconic status by dying before their work has a change to dwindle into stale repetition

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