Friday, 9 July 2010
Saatchi the Artoholic creates MOCA London
My name is Charles Saatchi and I am an Artoholic. A young British artist’s dream is to be ‘Saatchi-ed’. You have succeeded; you will be represented by a super slick dealer and become rich and famous. Now the man that makes this happen, the uber-collector/galleristo/ex-ad man/Mr Nigella Lawson aka Charles Saatchi is to bequeath 200 works (valued at a mere £25m) to the nation to be housed in the Saatchi Gallery which will mutate into MOCA London (Museum of Contemporary Art, London). The works will include seminal pieces by Tracey Emin, Grayson Perry, the Chapman Brothers and many more. There has been some debate about the funding of such a museum and various grumblings about potential gaps in the collection but surely another major arts institution in London will only solidify the city’s reputation as a leader in contemporary art?
Yes, there may be gaps (noted: a supreme lack of photography and film) but in time this can be rectified with future government and private funding which will expand the collection. Many major institutions in the UK and abroad were founded on limited private collections and they all happily evolved into their current states – the Tate, The Frick Collection and the Ashmolean Museum to name but a few. MOCA London would join the ranks of other cities which have a museum dedicated to contemporary art including the New Museum in New York and MAXXI in Rome (Tate Modern simply doesn’t count, its name is the massive give away).
I have always regarded the Saatchi Gallery with suspicion because it is essentially one man’s collection, aesthetic and taste resulting in rather odd exhibitions which never quite feel right (just go and see Newspeak…or actually don’t) but the transformation into a public institution would release these 200 works out of this narrow, personal vision and provide a starting point for a magnificent contemporary art collection for the nation. This isn’t simply a lazy-rich-man bequest, which would just be too easy for Saatchi, but an incredible plan to fill a void in London’s contemporary art scene. Why the grumbling? Without Saatchi’s support where would contemporary British art be right now? It would probably still be stuck on this island and largely unknown. We should be gracious in accepting such modest generosity and welcome being 'Saatchi-ed'.