Aleksandra Mir – Cold War, 2005
Royal Academy opens controversial new Saatchi exhibit
October 6, 2006
The U.K.’s Royal Academy of Arts unveiled to the public Friday a controversial new contemporary art exhibit drawn from the private collection of famed British collector Charles Saatchi. The exhibit, entitled USA Today: New American Art From the Saatchi Gallery, is curated by Saatchi and academy exhibitions secretary Norman Rosenthal. It focuses on the work of more than 30 emerging young artists based in the U.S. Comprising more than 80 new artworks that span paintings, collages, drawings, photographs and sculptures, USA Today features work commenting on U.S. culture and explores themes such as politics, violence, pornography and consumer culture. The show also carries a parental guidance warning because of the sexual nature of some artworks. The exhibit includes an installation of framed, semen-stained newspaper clippings of articles about police corruption, a painting of a pre-teen girl performing a sex act on a boy and a series of collages created on archival medical illustrations of female sexual and reproductive organs.
Rosenthal and Saatchi — best known for helping launch the careers of British artists Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin in the 1990s — are no strangers to controversy: they previously collaborated on the notorious Sensations exhibit of young British artists that exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1997. That exhibit caused a furor at the time — both in London and during its subsequent tour — for its controversial artworks. Pieces that drew the most criticism included Jake and Dinos Chapman’s installation of child mannequins with noses replaced by penises, an image of a black Virgin Mary surrounded by cut-outs of female genitalia from pornographic magazines and Myra, a portrait of convicted child killer Myra Hindley created from a child’s handprint. USA Today opened Oct. 6 and runs through Nov. 4 at the Royal Academy in London.
See also: Parental warning for Saatchi show (BBC NEWS)
Saatchi Exhibits Totemic Art (Bloomberg)