Details obtained through the freedom of information act has revealed that the government has spent £556,911 in the past 12 months on a selection of artworks for the Government Art Collection (GAC). These items are distributed to decorate various drab embassies and government offices dotted around the world .In a recent article titled “Government Art Cost Taxpayers £500,000”, The Daily Telegraph’s Arts Correspondent, Roya Nikkhah, seems to be attempting to rally Daily Mail style support against the spending. Nikkhah writes as freely as a Guantánamo detainee and the poorly thought-out text backfires like a Ford Mondeo. This writer is obviously not in any position to critique work like the sublimely beautiful lighting installation. Walldella VI created by David Batchelor, a well respected tutor at the Royal College of Art. The Telegraph proves yet again that it is unsuccessful in it’s attempt to rally their readers to criticize waste in government spending on the arts. If they really want to talk waste why not continue the pressure on the cross party MP’s expenses scandal or the UK’s trillion pound bank bailout. These are the real waste. In the future, Roya Nikkhah should stick to writing celebrity interviews or at least research her articles. Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol one of the pictures purchased by the Government cost £19,406.25,. It is a solid investment. Remember the recent headlines about actor Hugh Grant selling his 1963 Andy Warhol portrait of Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s for $21 million? He paid $3.6 million for it 6 years ago. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that his profit was around $5m for every year he owned the painting. Other works included in the purchase are two black and white prints by Tracey Emin, Margate 1 Sand and Still Love You Margate, which was bought for £14,687.50 A further £118,142.13 was spent on Axiom, a new installation by sculptor Conrad Shawcross.
The GAC owns approximately 13,600 works of art, from the 16th century to the present day, and concentrates on works by British artists, including Turner, Constable, Lucian Freud and David Hockney.
If the Telegraph’s correspondent had done her homework she would have discovered well-documented proof that The GAC has a good track record for shrewd investments in British art.