Rego & Saatchi

“A big gap in her London house has been left by a five foot square painting by Paula Rego, made in 1987, the year in which Kay first met Charles Saatchi. Entitled Looking Back, it is an ambiguous study of female relationships in which two women recline, or perch suggestively, on a table, while a young child crouches beneath with a small dog, looking back at the viewer.

In 1988 it was included in an exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in which the Portuguese born Rego displayed a powerful new figurative element in her work that caught the attention of the art world. Partly owing to Kay’s enthusiasm, several works from that show, including Looking Back, entered the Saatchi Collection. “We did it together,” she says, referring to her former husband. “I loved the boldness and simplicity of these paintings, and they were nice to live with.”

Charles and Kay Saatchi, who married in 1990, amassed a formidable collection of Rego’s work, estimated in 1997 to be as many as 47 paintings and prints. In 2009, eight years after his divorce from Kay, when Rego’s auction record had topped £550,000 for the first time, Mr Saatchi sold all the Regos privately – all, that is, except for Looking Back, which was owned by Kay.

The only painting from this important period of Rego’s work ever to be offered at auction, it is estimated to fetch a record for the artist at £600,000 to £800,000. Also in line to fetch a record price (£800,000 to £1.2 million) is Big Baby, a life-sized, hyper-realist sculpture of a blue-eyed baby with human hair by Rego’s son-in-law, Ron Mueck.”

In the Telegraph.

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