I'm no culture vulture but I do so enjoy watching the BBC's Culture Show on BBC 1 every Thursday.
Last night's episode had some interesting sections including one on the folk music of Scotland. It explained how folk music (which was surprisingly soothing to the ear) has flourished in Scotland (not in small part due to festivals such as Celtic Connections) but how English folk music is struggling to find it's own strengths, focus and place.
There was another piece on Charles Saatchi, the collector and philhanthropist who kick-started the BritArt phase. It talked about how he made a fortune from dealing in art and how his Saatchi Gallery, though undoubtedly grand, is not big enough to hold a fraction of his great collection. Andrew Graham-Dixon was discussing how the new collection going on display soon is once again changing direction, moving the focus from installation pieces (like Damien Hurst) to paintings. Dixon claims that by selling his original collection of American focussed art (Warhol and the likes of it) to more than a single buyer, Saatchi (and the world apparently) has lost the most wonderful collection. What alternate choice does Saatchi have? Also if he didn't change his collection or the direction of his exhibits ever so often we would end up with a stagnating gallery. This way Saatchi gets to buy newer/different art, possibly things he likes & can afford, promote new & forgotten artists, create new trends and be considered the sometimes lord master of good taste in art. And the public gets to enjoy a large variety of art, see emerging artists work and question its own taste in good art.
I must say though that I really enjoyed Graham-Dixons questioning of Charles Saatchi's motives - he was questioning the difference between being a collector and being a dealer. Saatchi would like us to think he is a collector but by changing his collection he is marking his place as a dealer. Either way he has influenced how the British public look at art.
I have yet to go and see the Gallery - have probably missed all of Damien Hursts pickled animals (eeew! and thank goodness I missed it!). For this season of paintings, 2005 will definitely be the year to go.