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Bursting bubbles at the Saatchi Gallery

19 January 2016

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Much excitement in Duke of York Square, where the Saatchi Gallery is celebrating its 30th birthday with a show devoted solely to female artists – a feat that heralds the arrival of feminism at the ad man turned art mogul’s Chelsea showroom. Congratulations all round, then.

Or does it? As Gallery Tally’s Cecilia Gavia observes as part of the Call for Gender Equity in the Arts project, two thirds of the 500 contemporary artists represented in the Saatchi collection are male.

Baby steps, then. More perplexing altogether is the show’s title: ‘Champagne Life’. Apparently, the phrase is taken from the title of one of the works on display, which refers to the perceived glamour of the art world masking its actuality: for most artists, it’s a cold, hard slog.

Which seems odd, no? The show’s gimmick is that it’s dedicated to women. Nothing wrong with that (unless you’re someone who regularly uses the term ‘feminazi’). But to bolt another, completely different theme onto the masthead seems, if you’ll pardon the Rake, a bit of a contrivance.

Whatever. It obviously can’t have anything do with the fact that part of the sponsorship comes from famous bubbly producer Pommery. Time to raise a glass (ceiling). Cheers!

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