CAMBRIDGE, U.K.–I just love following the fortunes of Brit advertising mogul/weird-art addict Charles Saatchi.
Saatchi introduced the art world to Damien Hirst, the guy whose oeuvre consists of animals cut into pieces and pickled in formaldehyde, and Chris Ofili, who claimed a few years ago that his elephant dung and -bedecked “Holy Virgin Mary” was high art–and thus belonged in the taxpayer-subsidized Brooklyn Museum,no matter what then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani or the Catholic taxpayers of New York City might think. As I gleefully reported on this blog, Saatchi’s London warehouse where Ofili’s masterpiece was stored, burned to a crisp last year, proving that there is sometimes justice under heaven.
Now, Saatchi has made the U.K. papers again, throwing a hissy fit over the landlord of his fancy gallery just on the south bank of the Thames and deciding to park his high art elsewhere. It seems that the landlord, Makota Okamoto has made Saatchi’s “staff feel despondent,” as the U.K. Telegraph reported. Over the months, Okamoto has been accused of kicking a sculpture of a sleeping homeless person, blocking the entrance to the disabled lavatory, and swearing and making ist remarks to the gallery staff, including calling British women y fat pigs.”
So Saatchi, accusing Okamoto of creating a “malevolent atmosphere” is clearing out and taking his wares to a site in Chelsea.
As for me, I love what Telegraph columnist Craig Brown has to say about Saatchi’s sudden move:
“I fear Mr Saatchi may come to regret his decision. From Marcus Harvey’s portrait of Myra Hindley to Damien Hirst’s animals, he has long favoured works that demonstrate the general wretchedness, cruelty and banality of modern life. It is in precisely such a malevolent atmosphere, overseen by the most despondent staff, most of them in tears, that his exhibits might be seen at their best.
“In many ways, the alleged behaviour of Mr Okamoto is the living embodiment of every thing that Mr Saatchi holds dear. The two men obviously share an aesthetic of alienation and despondency, so it is high time they came to an arrangement.
“An obstruction outside a disabled lavatory is just the sort of exhibit – stark, haunting, harrowing, a brutal reminder of this, that and the other – for which Mr Saatchi normally whips out his chequebook. I’m sure he would also agree with Mr Okamoto that the only way to improve a sculpture of a homeless person asleep is to get someone to kick it over and over again. If Mr Okamoto is prepared to do the job for nothing, why doesn’t Mr Saatchi stay put and take him on, full-time?”