Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
CHARLES SAATCHI is, as we should all have realised by now, the contemporary art collector sans pareil. And while his Britpack fetched record prices at Christie's he was preparing his stable of "new neurotic realists", as he is calling them. But it seems the young painters are not alone in being twitchy. Their patron may be a major neurotic himself, to judge

from a lecture delivered by

his ex-wife.

Doris Saatchi, an art expert of repute herself, delivered one of the National Art Collections Fund Fantasy Art Collecting lectures (try saying that when you're sober). I was intrigued by her opening. She said: "Collecting is a neurotic activity. It's about control. It's as if by bringing beautiful things to you, you can somehow create a world where nothing bad ever happens. It's about control." No names, no pack drill, of course. So we can only speculate as to which of our major contemporary collectors this alleged control freak is.

Mrs Saatchi was also not backward in coming forward about the Turner Prize, the winner of which tends to be from the Charles Saatchi collection when there is an "r" in the month. Indeed, Charles Saatchi awarded the prize a couple of years ago. His ex-wife began in mouth-watering style: "I am probably the wrong person to ask, but..." then went on: "I'm not much in favour of prizes for artists; I think you might as well give a prize to the artist who made the most paintings in any one year. It's not a horse race. Initially the Turner Prize did a great deal to stimulate public interest in contemporary art. The fact is that it has now become about the size of the prize, and yet one more burden on a genuine appreciation of contemporary art, placed by the market and market prices, as opposed to value."

AS THE lottery-assisted art buildings begin to open, it would be interesting to know what the punters really think of them. After two visits to the impressive-looking new Sadler's Wells, I do wonder whether architects ever sit in the seats in the buildings that they design.

The seats in the new theatre are not over-comfortable, they have insufficient room for people to squeeze past without having to shed a few pounds, and their arm rests do not stretch to the elbow. Why? I would welcome readers' comments. They will be treated with absolute discretion - and printed.