[-empyre-] saatchi/deitch

catherine liu liu at uci.edu
Wed Jan 27 17:38:28 EST 2010

Saatchi and Deitch represent actors in the art world who have far 
surpassed their traditional roles as collectors and dealers. Saatchi 
rebranded England -- and saved the National Gallery when he rescued 
them from their Francis Bacon show disaster. As of that moment, he 
could make shows events in which his own collecting habits were 
enhanced. He used leverage -- as one does in speculative ventures to 
create more value for his holdings. Now he is a very skilled 
collector and a dynamic entreprenuer because he defined the art 
market and made British art sexy...all the while helping Thatcher 
sell her ownership society to Brits. He deserves a lot of kudos and 
perhaps a bit more analysis than he has gotten. He is not evil...he 
was at the forefront of redefining and strengthening the role of the 
collector in setting curatorial and critical agendas. You could say 
he was visionary.

The same might be said of Jeffrey Deitch. He is more than a dealer. 
And btw, I don't think he was the first person to make such a big 
move. Kathy Halbreich hired Richard Flood out of Barbara Gladstone. 
Museums and galleries began working collaboratively to create value 
and enhance speculation. None of this is inherently bad. Is there 
something unethical about enhancing the value of your friend's 
collection by giving his favorite artist a retrospective? Well, no 
since the art work has operated as a networked market...apparently 
free. What I find oppressive is the claim that these people are 
simply "finding" the best art.

That is just not true. So much good art falls out of the skein of 
these networks. In good times, this art also finds a place in the art 
world firmament, but in bad times, the differences are much greater. 
Now artists also expanded the ways in which they acted -- when they 
became "producers" agents, service providers as in relational 
aesthetics...Is this bad? It was innovative...the artist was 
refashioned as networker and node of informational and service 
oriented activities.

Deitch will probably allow MOCA to run with the ethos of what in my 
mind was its most successful show -- trendsetting 
show...Helter/Skelter -- Their identity was a bit unformed, but the 
Kippenberger show was excellent and that sort of comes out of the 
Helter Skelter movement.



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