Monday, 23 November 2009

Saatchi's 'Best of British' Art Stars

Saatchi's 'Best of British' features a glittering panel of artworld movers and shakers - artist Tracey Emin, critic Matthew Collings, art collector Frank Cohen, Head of Art Galleries at The Barbican, Kate Bush, and Charles Saatchi, who select six young artists to participate in an X Factor style reality TV show designed to help them develop their skills under the guidance of leading British artists and figures from the art world. One of them will then be selected by the panel and Charles Saatchi to have their work exhibited in Newspeak: British Art Now, both at The State Hermitage Museum and the Saatchi Gallery.

The winning star artist also takes home a free studio for 3 years in London's Chelsea, from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in partnership with the Saatchi Gallery.

It makes compelling TV, but has predicatably raised eyebrows in the artist community for it's shameless emulation of arguably one of the tackiest popstar competitions on British TV - the X Factor. 'I really believe I can make more money and promote myself better without tarnishing my image through things like this than through reality TV. It is sad that the older generation like Saatchi do not yet realize that the vibrant artistic communities are thriving organically!' says one artist in response to the show.

For anyone interested in what really goes through the minds of what some would call an elite, 'cultural capital creators' - those who give value to art, and decide whether it is 'good' or not - this is essential, sometimes brutally hilarious and incredulous viewing. The whimsical mechanisms of the artworld revealed at their most raw, rudimentary level. Watch it and laugh, cry, and ... possibly cry again.

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