I was given My Name Is Charles Saatchi & I Am An Artoholoic for Christmas and have only just got round to it. Not a heavy read by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Saatchi admits at one point to having comics as his most regular reading. This is essentially a compilation of scores of questions from different people on a wide range of subjects.
It is as revealing as one can reasonably expect from one of the most creative advertising geniuses of the 20th Century – i.e. I suspect not so much. He’s sharp, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, occasionally insightful and quite fun. His obsessions for the so-called YBAs (Young British Artists) like Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin are well-documented, and they are a regular topic of conversation. As are some of the highly influential exhibitions around the world that he has instigated.
This is the sort of book to have on the go in the loo (if you like that sort of thing) or to read in an hour or two.
I was struck, though, by the rare occasions when he revealed (albeit rather flippantly) his worldview perspective. He is an Iraqi-born Jew whose family fled to London in 1947, so no doubt has quite a few stories to tell. But these all-too-brief remarks are quite suggestive…
Does a love of art, particularly Renaissance art on a biblical theme, make one feel closer to God?
I believe God must be very disappointed in his handiwork. Mankind has clearly failed to evolve much in all these years; we’re still as cretinous and barbaric as we were many centuries ago, and poor God must spend all day shaking his head at our vileness and general ineptitude. Or perhaps, we might just give him a good laugh. But of course, I hope God likes our art enough to forgive us our sins, particularly mine. (p14)
Then even more briefly…
What do you buy apart from Art?
I have a shocking Frappucino habit, so what doesn’t go on art goes to Starbucks.
What is the one thing you now really wish you could buy?
My way into Heaven. (p112)
One wonders whether or not he might have had much to talk about with another, wealthy influencer of public opinion from a former age…