Saatchi's modern art donated to hospitals

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The Independent Online

The advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi has donated modern art worth about £1.25m to NHS hospitals.

The works include Hymn, a 20ft-high sculpture by Damien Hirst, which shows the inner workings of the human body as depicted by a plastic toy.

Saatchi has offered the sculpture to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where it is expected to be installed in the atrium, provided it is deemed not distressing for the patients.

Saatchi's gifts also include 50 paintings by artists including Simon Callery, David Combs and Nicholas May. In addition, Stephen Murphy's Rabbit shows a furry animal whose smiling eyes belong to the artist. Ointment by Robert Wilson is a still life of sausage, egg, mushrooms and baked beans

However, about 10 works have been rejected because they have been seen as inappropriate for display in a hospital. They include Carina Weidle's Olympic Chickens, a sequence showing chickens whose heads have been severed, and a Combs abstract of a naked woman.

The charity Paintings in Hospitals, which has distributed individual works given by the artists John Piper, John Bratby and Carel Weight, stressed that the art had to be "right for the healthcare environment".

Initial findings from a survey of patients at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital indicated that visual and performing arts reduced anxiety levels. But experts said yesterday that there was no proven therapeutic effect from looking at art.

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