First opened in 1985 by Charles Saatchi to exhibit his personal collection, The Saatchi Gallery has garnered unprecedented acclaim and media scrutiny over the past three decades.
Originally housed on Boundary Road in North London, Saatchi’s first exhibition showcased primarily the works of modern American artists, with works from Andy Warhol, Donald Judd and Cy Twombly among others.
In 1991, Saatchi made a bold change to his collection, and sold much of his existing artwork, choosing to buy in it’s place the works of relatively unknown British artists, showcasing the works of artists such as Damien Hirst, Jenny Saville, and Sarah Lucas in a series of shows launching in 1992 named Young British Artists. It was with the 1997 Sensation exhibition that Saatchi’s collection of YBA works courted much scandal, with pieces such as Marcys Harvey’s Myra, and later in 2004 Stella Vine’s Hi Paul Can You Come Over.
It can be said that Saatchi’s promotion of these then unknown artists resulted in propelling them into the British art scene, allowing them to dominate it throughout the 1990s.
In 2003, the Gallery moved to County Hall, South Bank, where during the opening of the first exhibition Spencer Tunick displayed his ‘nude happening’, and artwork by Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst and other prominent YBAs was shown.
The Saatchi Gallery now resides on the King’s Road in Chelsea, where it has been since 2006, and is currently the only entirely free-entry art gallery of it’s kind in the world. It continues to showcase the work of little known artists, and fittingly challenges the direction of it’s concept frequently – however the philosophy of the gallery remains the same, in the words of Rebecca Wilson, the gallery’s ex head of development “The gallery’s guiding principle is to show what is being made now, the most interesting artists of today. It’s about drawing people’s attentions to someone who might be tomorrow’s Damien Hirst.”
To find out more about the Saatchi Gallery, visit the website.
Comment and further reading:April 13, 2016