Art collector Charles Saatchi has a gift for Britain. It includes Tracy Emin’s messy bed, Grayson Perry’s explicit pottery and a room full of engine oil. The advertising tycoon, whose patronage made household names of artists like Emin and Damien Hirst, announced Thursday he is donating his London gallery and 200 works in its collection to the nation as a new public art museum. The gallery said the works, valued at more than 25 million pounds ($37 million), will be given to the government. The 70,000-square foot (6,500-square meter) Saatchi Gallery will be renamed the Museum of Contemporary Art, London.
The artworks being donated include Emin’s “My Bed” — the artist’s famous recreation of her boudoir, complete with empty liquor bottles, condoms and cigarette butts — and Richard Wilson’s “20:50,” an eye-dazzling room filled with oil. There are also works by Perry — best known for vases adorned with disturbing twists on classical scenes — and artists from around the world, including China’s Zhang Dali and India’s Jitish Kallat.
Emin said she was thrilled by Saatchi’s gift. “I wish more people had that kind of vision,” she said.
Saatchi, co-founder of the Saatchi & Saatchi ad agency, was the main patron of the Young British Artists movement of the 1990s, which made Hirst and Emin millionaires.
He captured the public imagination with his 1997 exhibition “Sensation,” which included Hirst’s shark pickled in formaldehyde and Emin’s tent appliqued with the names of “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995.”
The show’s impact lived up to its name. When it opened in New York in 1999, then-mayor Rudolph Giuliani was so offended by Chris Ofili’s portrait of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung that he temporarily cut off funding to the Brooklyn Museum. The exhibition’s success helped make Saatchi one of the art world’s most powerful figures.
“He was part of the perfect storm of British art’s success,” Perry said. Since then Saatchi — who is married to celebrity chef Nigella Lawson — has continued to collect, amassing a vast collection. The gallery said even after the donation, Saatchi would still own “many hundreds” of works.
“I think he has a scatter-gun approach but in his trawling he’s picked up some extraordinary stuff,” Perry said. “This is by no means an insignificant gift. It’s the cream of the crop.”
Saatchi’s current gallery opened in 2008 in London’s affluent Chelsea neighborhood and has mounted shows by emerging artists from India, China and the Middle East. Saatchi’s announcement is a boost to an arts community worried about looming cuts to government funding. Britain’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has said ministries will have to slash budgets by up to 25 percent to eliminate the country’s record deficit.
The aim is to keep the space free to the public, with operating funds coming from individual and corporate sponsorship along with revenue from its restaurant, bookshop and rentals for outside events held there. The gift would also include artworks that could be sold to acquire other art so that the museum could remain a showcase for the latest works.
Rebecca Wilson, associate director of the Saatchi Gallery, said as well as the 200-strong core collection, the gift includes other works that can be sold to buy new acquisitions to keep the collection changing and current. The British government has not yet accepted the gift, although discussions are in progress, said Ruth Cairns, a spokeswoman for the Saatchi Gallery, who added that she had no timetable for a final decision. Also unclear is when Mr. Saatchi plans to retire, which Ms. Cairns said had not yet been determined. A statement from the two-year-old gallery also said that Mr. Saatchi would receive no tax benefits from the gift.
She said Saatchi “wants to give London and the country something it wouldn’t have otherwise, which is a very agile collection that can respond quickly to developments in contemporary art from all over the world.”
The owner of the building that houses the gallery on London’s King’s Road, Cadogan Estate, said it hoped the new museum would remain in the same location “for the foreseeable future.” Wilson said the gallery’s staff and management team would stay in place, and Saatchi, who turned 67 last month, was not planning to retire anytime soon.
“He just wants to prepare things for the future and make sure the Saatchi Gallery retains its unique character,” she said.
Check out also an Interseting article about art donations, by Sarah Murray from the Financial Times, who wrote “Art smart: how to donate artworks”.
The Serpentine Gallery presents an exhibition of the work of the celebrated American artist Jeff Koons. This will be England’s first ever major survey of Koons’s work in a public gallery. For his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, Jeff Koons presents works from his Popeye series, which he began in 2002. The works incorporate some of Koons’s signature ideas and motifs, including surreal combinations of everyday objects, cartoon imagery, art-historical references and children’s toys. The sculptures on show continue Koons’s interest in casting inflatable toys. Those typically used by children in a swimming pool are cast in aluminium, their surfaces painted to bear an uncanny resemblance to the original objects. On exhibition 2 July through 13 September, 2009.
Koons has used inflatables in his work since the late 1970s. He further develops his use of cast inflatables in the Popeye series by juxtaposing these replica ready-mades with unaltered everyday objects, such as chairs or rubbish bins. The paintings in the series are complex and layered compositions that combine disparate images both found and created by Koons, including images of the sculptures in the series.
Featuring loans from both public and private collections, the exhibition also includes works that have never been shown publicly before. The immediately recognisable figures of Popeye and Olive Oyl are central in the series and they appear in several prominent works within the exhibition. One of the most iconic American cartoon characters, Popeye was conceived 80 years ago this year in 1929 when the Great Depression was taking hold. In Popeye’s early years, the cartoon addressed the hardships and injustices of the time and, in this current period of economic recession, he is a fitting character to rediscover and explore. Jeff Koons: Popeye Series is curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, and Kathryn Rattee, Curator, Serpentine Gallery.
Working in thematic series since the early 1980s, Koons has explored notions of consumerism, taste, banality, childhood and sexuality. He is known for his meticulously fabricated works that draw on a variety of objects and images from American and consumer culture.
Jeff Koons first exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in 1991 as part of the group show Objects for the Ideal Home: The Legacy of Pop Art. His work also appeared in the exhibition Give and Take that was organised by the Serpentine Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2000, and as part of In the darkest hour there may be light – works from Damien Hirst’s murderme collection at the Serpentine in 2006.
Koons took part in a headline event in the Serpentine Gallery’s summer events programme, Park Nights, in 2006. He appeared as part of a panel discussion involving Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rem Koolhaas, the architect of that year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Koons also contributed to Hans Ulrich Obrist’s recent book Formulas for Now, which was presented at the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon in 2007.
Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania, 1955. His work has been widely exhibited internationally. His most recent solo exhibitions include presentations at the Château de Versailles, France; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, all in 2008. Koons lives and works in New York.
Serpentine Gallery is one of London’s best-loved galleries for modern and contemporary art. Its Exhibition, Architecture, Education and Public Programmes attract approximately 750,000 visitors a year and admission is free. In the grounds of the Gallery is a permanent work by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, dedicated to the Serpentine’s former Patron Diana, Princess of Wales. Visit : http://www.serpentinegallery.org/
A “musketeer” painted by Pablo Picasso was one of the big attractions at an auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s held in London, where it sold for 5.7 million pounds ($9.3 million). The 1969 work, “Homme a l’Epee,” was the second most expensive lot of the session, after Monet’s “Au Parc Monceau,” that went for 6.3 million pounds ($10.3 million). Painted on canvas, the Picasso work shows an exhuberant and colorful swordsman in a scene that mixes thick brush strokes in which red and yellow predominate. Just by chance the rival auction house Sotheby’s is offering this Wednesday to the highest bidder another musketeer – this one painted on wood – by Picasso, executed on July 25, 1969, one day before the one sold at Christie’s. Both works figured in the famous 1970 exhibition at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, together with other musketeers, lovers and gentlemen, all charged with energy and a contagious humor.
Another important Spanish artist, Joan Miro (1893-1983), led the bidding Tuesday at Christie’s, where his “Peinture (Femme se poudrant)” sold for 3.9 million pounds ($6.4 million).
Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s London: “During the last 6 months, our auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art in London, Paris and New York have produced consistently solid results and this evening’s sale confirms that collectors, both new and established, have confidence buying works by established artists in this category. We see consistent demand throughout and overall the prices of individual works remain stable. At the top end of the market we continue to see strong interest and bidding as collectors seize opportunities to acquire rare and beautiful works of art.”
The top price was paid for Au Parc Monceau, 1878, by Claude Monet (1840-1926), an important painting from the vintage years of Impressionism which realised £6,313,250 / $10,284,284 / €7,392,816. It had been sold at auction only once before when it realised £3.7 million in June 2001 in London. At this evening’s auction, 2 works of art sold for over £5 million / 9 for over £1 million. Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 83% UK and Europe, 14% Americas and 3% Asia.
Further leading highlights of the sale included:
Painting, 1949, by Joan Miró (1893-1983), one of an outstanding group of pictures described as being among the most important of the artist’s career which sold for £3,961,250 / $6,452,876 / €4,638,624 against a pre-sale estimate of £2.2 million to £2.8 million.
Elsewhere in the sale, Hélène by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) sold for £1,721,250 / $2,803,916 / €2,015,584; Mohn by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) realized £1,273,250 / $2,074,124 / €1,490,976, and Composition by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) sold for £1,217,250 / $1,982,900 / €1,425,400.
Further highlights included Buste de Diego sur tige, a bronze by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) which sold for £1,026,850 / $1,672,739 / €1,202,441 (estimate: £750,000 to £950,000) and Mont-roig, le pont, an important early landscape by Joan Miró (1893-1983) which was painted in 1917 near his family home in Catalonia and which sold for £541,250 / $881,696 / €633,804 (estimate: £400,000 to £600,000).
UK artist James Cauty presents his latest exhibition of work titled Splatter at The Aquarium in London. Taking those nostalgic childhood memories of Warner Bros. cartoon characters, Cauty gives us a violent yet accurate representation of what would’ve really happened had Tom & Jerry been on HBO.
Just opened up at Serpentine Gallery in London, German artist Gerhard Richter showcases his newest piece titled 4900 Colours: Version II. Comprised of 4900 brightly colored squares randomly arranged it features the Richter created concept labeled “controlled chance”. Painted on 100 aluminum panels, the work measures 69 square meters a piece and can be displayed as 49 separate pieces. The exhibition can be seen until November 16, 2008.
The young cutting edge talent section of the largest and most commercial show in town. Look out for “Lighten Up,” [re]design’s showcase of 64 sustainable lighting designs. 18-21 September, Earls Court
Urbantine Project at Tent London
This competition for young, up and coming architects is one of the star features of the East End show. Check out the winning installation for 2008 by Working Architecture Group. 18-21, Truman Brewery, Brick Lane.
Usually this show (curated by the infamous Piers and Rory) takes place in a darkened, dilapidated industrial building somewhere in the East End, but this year the renegades of the London Design Festival are moving uptown to Covent Garden no less. You can also find a Designersblock pop-up shop on Selfridges’ 4th Floor. No 1, The Piazza, Covent Garden, WC2E
Size Matter – Pavilion by David Adjaye
Last year it was the women, Amanda Levete and Zaha Hadid, showing off their curves at the South Bank, this year it’s a man’s turn. British Architect David Adjaye has been invited to install a conceptual pavilion for the duration of the festival. (Pictured below right.) 13–30 September, South Bank Centre.
Libby Sellers Gallery: Beau Sauvage
The influential design curator Libby Sellers is presenting unique work from designers who work with “the raw and the beautiful.” Exhibitors include Daniel Brown, Tomas Kral and Julia Lohmann 19 September-19 October 2008, Liberty, 4th Floor, Great Marlborough Street, London. W1
Double Dutch: A Floral Fantasy
This guerilla installation in the Brompton Design District is a collaboration between Flower Council of Holland and the curator Jane Withers. Together they have invited two design partnerships to create a floral feast. Lisa White with Graham Hollick offer “Appetites” and Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe present five “Bouquets of Emotions.” 15–19 September, 29 Thurloe Place, South Kensington.
Alternative Sitting at Eco
Eco, the green lifestyle store in West London, is exhibiting sustainable seating design by U.K .design talent, including Pli Design, Reestore and Ryan Frank. 13-23 September, 213 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DW
Established & Sons
Known for producing design-art of the highest caliber, design manufacturer of the moment Established & Sons is opening a new showroom in North London. Their new 6000 square-foot space will show work by great contemporary names such as BarberOsgerby, Paul Cocksedge, Jaime Hayon, Jasper Morrison and Sebastian Wrong 15-23 September, Wenlock Road, N1.
FT Talks – Business of Design
The Financial Times hosts breakfast talks at the Southbank Centre with themes such as Creative Cities, Creative Brands and Sustainability. 15 – 19 September, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank.
Greengaged at The Design Council
This series of events, talks and workshops, curated by Sophie Thomas of Thomas Matthews, Sarah Johnson of [re]design and Anne Chick from the Sustainable Design Research Centre at Kingston University, promises to be a fascinating insight into the world of sustainable design. 15 – 23 September, Design Council, 34 Bow Street, WC2E.
At the V&A this summer, Fashion V Sport, will explore the relationship between contemporary fashion and global sportswear brands. Both industries have been inspired by street style and have been working in closer collaboration in recent years. On display will be around 60 outfits including performance sportswear, work by fashion designers such as Stella McCartney who have designed sportswear ranges, and garments such as the work of Japanese label Visvim which show the influence of sportswear on high fashion. There will also be design drawings, photographs and film to examine how these products are worn, designed, advertised and collected. On view through 4 January, 2009.
Celebrated artist James Jarvis has a new installation at the Niketown store in London. Showcasing his famous style, the windows are decorated in a wind runner bird print, a character he created within his realm of ideas. There is also an 8-panel vinyl piece inside the store featuring the same clever imagery. Make sure to stop by Niketown if your in London, it looks like an awesome installation and a free James Jarvis poster is always nice.
“From 1st August until Christmas, bottles of Beck’s beer will be adorned with the work of four emerging artists – thanks to a new scheme called Beck’s Canvas, a collaboration between the German brewery and London’s Royal College of Art. The RCA asked their graduates and students to submit work on the theme of individuality specially for this project and a jury of RCA artists selected the winning artists: Rita Ikonen, Tom Price, Charlotte Bracegirdle and Simon Cunningham.
Beck’s has supported contemporary British art over the years and has previously persuaded artists such as Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin to create label artwork for limited edition bottles. However, this year Beck’s Canvas will be mass producing and distributing a whopping 27 million of the special bottles – making this one of the largest ever public art commissions. The combined area of 27 million Beck’s beer bottle labels (143,100 square metres) is greater than the floorspace of The National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art and The Louvre combined. That’s about the size of 260 Cistine Chapel ceilings. Or, any sports fans reading, 35 football pitches.”
This is very interesting considering the amount of everage bottles we have seen recently become a great medium of art which is catching a lot of attention, with the likes of Mountain Dew and Coca Cola.
London played host to street artists from all over the world this May for Banksy’s ‘The Cans Festival’. The 40 artists’ work, which spanned the inside of an entire train tunnel, has been released in this compiled in this time-lapse video, showing the space from conception to completion.