Pandora by Katy Guest, 5 March 2004

Saatchi and Stuckists in war of the art worlds

It's paintbrushes at dawn. The Stuckist movement is at war with Charles Saatchi after the art supremo took the credit for discovering the nightclub stripper Stella Vine when he bought her controversial portrait of Princess Diana. Charles Thomson, co-founder of the anti-Britart movement, tells me he's furious because he feels the art tycoon has been stealing their identity as he tires of the Britart scene. Thomson can fairly claim to have discovered Vine, who was a protégée of the Stuckist movement that so despises Saatchi's, and the Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota's, strangehold on the modern art market. Until six months ago, she was also Thomson's wife. "When I met Stella, she was painting ordinary portraits and still-lifes in an evening class, with no expression or emotion," says Thomson. "When I saw her doodles
of strippers and nightclubs, I told her that was where her talent lay. All her work is now Stuckist through and through." The Stuckists have been a thorn in the side of the Saatchi-Serota axis since their inception in 1999. Believing the conceptualist art that dominated the Turner Prize was "lost in a cul-de-sac of idiocy", they have staged their own "Real Turner Prize" shows for which Vine has been nominated. Vine is not the first Stuckist to sell out. Tracey Emin, who used to step out with the Stuckists' co-founder Billy Childish, has been taking the Saatchi shilling for several years. The Stuckists were once derided by Time Out's art critic Sarah Kent, who said, "These vociferous opportunists are... a bunch of Bayswater Road-style daubers." Now that Saatchi is following their every move, she might have to revise her opinion.