6 NOVEMBER 1999, Page 36

Give Saatchi some credit

From Professor Eric Fernie Sir: David Lee ('You've been framed', 30 October) is right to question the monopoly hold which conceptual artists and their sup- porters appear to have over the contempo- rary British art scene, but he should give credit where credit is due, on at least three counts. He says of Charles Saatchi that 'ten years ago he jettisoned a massive holding of blue-chip 20th-century art and fashionable British work, and began volume purchases from unknown artists', an action which surely merits the highest praise. Second, the group in question has made the British art scene one of the liveliest in the world; and, third, monopolies are seldom entirely the responsibility of those operating them: what we need is another Saatchi, but one dedicated to the power of images in them- selves rather than to images as the by-prod- ucts of ideas.

Eric Femie

Director, Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2