Report: British Museums Not Exactly Rushing to Accept Charles Saatchi’s $47 M. Art Gift

Tracey Emin, ‘My Bed,’ 1998. (Courtesy The Saatchi Gallery)

According to The Guardian, Charles Saatchi’s proposed gift to the nation, a trove of late-20th-century British art estimated to be worth £30 million ($47.1 million), which he offered up two years ago, still has no takers. A proposed deal with the Arts Council hasn’t panned out, and now it appears that Tate has rejected Mr. Saatchi’s gift, which includes Tracey Emin’s My Bed, a collection of Grayson Perry ceramics and Richard Wilson’s 20:50—a pool of recycled engine oil. “I find this snub baffling,” writes critic Jonathan Jones, whose musings about the aesthetic divide between Tate and its would-be patron prove resonant on this side of the Atlantic.

From the story:

Perhaps there have been arguments behind the scenes about curatorial influence (Saatchi loves to curate: does he want a say in how galleries show his collection?) Perhaps there have been quibbles about obligations to show the work continuously, rather than keeping it in storage. This is speculation: those involved have said they do not wish to comment further.

But I do know that Tate prides itself on a very different aesthetic take on contemporary art from that identified with Saatchi. The Tanks, for instance, opened with a festival of live art. Love it or loathe it, this is the kind of stuff Saatchi would not touch with a bargepole. His art collecting in the 1980s and 1990s, a period when he was central to new British art, was strong on shocks and thrills, low on the sort of cultural theory that loves such forms as live art. By contrast, Tate has tended to champion what it sees as the “real” international avant garde, artists who are big on theory, and weaker when it comes to image-making power.

Report: British Museums Not Exactly Rushing to Accept Charles Saatchi’s $47 M. Art Gift