Before reading this, I knew virtually nothing about Charles Saatchi. Just his name, and his doubled name, and the fact that he collected art. I would have guessed that I would not like him. I’m not sure why. But in fact, I like this guy a lot. He is very smart, very frank, and I like his attitudes toward art, if not all of his choices.
The book is a collection of questions put to Saatchi, by journalists, by critics, and by average Joes, and his responses. Not all of the questions are directly related to art:
“Q: What advice do you and your wife give your children?
A: Nigella’s mother gave her an invaluable insight into nice behavior. According to Nigella her advice went something like this: ‘It is better to be charmed than to charm.’ By this she meant that what makes people feel good about themselves is feeling as if they have been charming, interesting; in short, have been listened to.
For her, the notion that one should oneself be riveting or aim to be quite the most fascinating person in the room was a vulgarity and just sheer, misplaced vanity. Trying to be charming is self-indulgent; allowing oneself to be charmed is simply good manners.”
On the state of exhibition curating today:
“These dead-eyed, soulless exhibitions dominate the art landscape with their socio-political pretensions. The familiar grind of 1970s conceptualist retreads, the dry-as-dust photo and text panels, the production line of banal and impenetrable installations, the hushed and darkened rooms with their interchangeable flickering videos are the hallmarks of a decade of numbing right-on curatordom.”
And this gem:
“No art is pointless. I had that Immanuel Kant round for a bit of a chin-wag the other day and he told me that the meaning of art was that it had no function.”
By which I take him to mean that art need do nothing more than be. Not so far from my own opinion that the purpose of art is to bring beauty into our lives. As a long-ago girlfriend used to say, “Just sit there and be pretty.”