LONDON—Charles Saatchi’s latest acquisition is a 2007 portrait of Heinrich Himmler (1900-45), the Gestapo commander, second only to Hitler in power, who controlled the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. A spokesman for Saatchi said the collector, who is of Iraqi-Jewish descent, simply “liked it and preferred it to the other paintings in the show.”
The Himmler portrait is part of an exhibition of paintings, titled “The Beauty Show,” by young British artist Jasper Joffe (b. 1975), which opened at the V22 gallery in east London on Jan. 18. One room is devoted to paintings inspired by Vogue fashion models of the 1970s; the other, to portraits of “ugly” people, such as Himmler.
Joffe’s exhibit is a commentary on the fashion industry’s relentless pursuit of aesthetic beauty, which he calls fashism.
Guests at the opening were asked to separate into two groups—one for those who considered themselves beautiful, the other for those who thought they were ugly.
The artist reports that not many people showed up at the opening, “probably because they were unsure whether to categorize themselves as beautiful or ugly.” Saatchi arrived the following day and bought the Himmler portrait, which was priced at £3,000 ($5,900).
Two other oil paintings from the show, also dated 2007, have fallen to British collectors, reports V22’s director Tom Rowland. Mama Linda sold for £9,000 ($17,900); and Carrie (Daughter) sold for £6,000 ($11,900).