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a critique of Charles Saatchi - 2nd edition
by Rita Hatton and John A. Walker

(London: Institute of Artology, 2003) paperback, 50 illus. ISBN 0-9545702-0-0 Price £20. Second Edition.

This book is the only in-depth study of Charles Saatchi as an art collector.

The Second Edition contains a new chapter of 17,000 words that brings the Saatchi saga up to date with an account of his gifts, sales and purchases, exhibitions since 1999, the ‘power couple’ Charles and Nigella, and the new Saatchi Gallery at County Hall.

It tells the story of the Saatchi advertising agencies, the famous Silk-Cut campaign and political posters for the Tory Party, and their effort to achieve global domination by means of take-overs and acquisitions. It argues that advertising values permeate the kind of art Charles supports.

However, it also discusses works by artists such as Hans Haacke and Jamie Wagg that are critical of Saatchi. Also considered is the influence Saatchi has exercised on public galleries and institutions. It explains how Saatchi devised a whole value-adding apparatus – collection, gallery, exhibitions, tame critics, books – in order to boost the monetary worth of the art objects he purchased cheaply from young artists desperate for fame.

The Saatchi Collection is not permanent – repeated sales and purchases means that it changes all the time. Exhibitions of the YBAs such as ‘Sensation’ in London and New York ensured maximum publicity and the invention of spurious ‘art movements’, such as the New Neurotic Realism, indicated a desire to determine the course of the history of art.

The text is informed by the political and sociological writings of Marx, Veblen and Raymonde Moulin. While it cites a wide range of opinions about Saatchi, it is primarily a hostile critique written from an anti-capitalist perspective. Those who dominate the economy, politics and ideology - and culture too – use their power for their own benefit. Their patronage of art is an alibi for continuing the system of exploitation and inequality, and deflecting criticism. This book illuminates the process of control. If knowledge really is power, then it will have a use-value.

What reviewers said about the first edition:

Small and malignant, this book slots into the pocket as snugly as a gunslinger’s Bible.
Keith Miller, TLS.

Takes a fresh look at the shadowy world of private patronage as it operates today.
Steve Jones, Socialist Appeal.

A thorough-going account of Saatchi’s rise to the status of Supercollector and an indictment of the role of advertising in the advancement of capitalism and how this implicitly endangers the field of cultural production.
Roger Cook, Art History.

A valuable counter balance to the weight of vanity publications associated with the subject.
Colin Gleadell, Art Monthly.

Simultaneously entertaining and relentless in its structure … good value for money.
Julian Freeman, The Art Book.

Copies can be bought via the Amazon.co.uk website

£20 plus £3 for postage.
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