The three people most responsible for the exhilarating decade we have just had were the collector Charles Saatchi, Norman Rosenthal, of the Royal Academy, and Nick Serota, at the Tate. Saatchi put his money where his mouth was; Rosenthal put on great shows; and Serota played a mean hand of art politics. Alas, in 2003, all three of them looked finished, like three ageing boxers reaching the end of their useful lives simultaneously. Saatchi’s decision to relocate his holdings to the mausoleum at County Hall was particularly regrettable.
The place isn’t right for art. It’s too damn glum. Rosenthal has completely lost his knack for picking crucial shows — putting on Armani was desperate. And Serota has been leading the Tate for too long, and has reached a Margaret Thatcher-style state of all-powerful stasis. Let’s bury the lot of them and move on.
In an undistinguished year for shows, the most inspirational was Titian at the National Gallery, although those low ceilings in the Sainsbury Wing did their best to kill the joy once again. Can’t we dig deeper into the basement?