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Saatchi stuns critics with gallery clear-out

The Saatchi Gallery at County Hall will be cleared of installation art by the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin in the new year and filled instead with the more traditional medium of painting.

Opening in January, The Triumph of Painting will mark the gallery's 20th anniversary (though it has only been on the South Bank since 2002) and will feature established painters Martin Kippenberger, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans, Jorg Immendorff and Hermann Nitsch.

Announcing the radical change, millionaire collector Charles Saatchi declared that painting, and not the video, installations, or photography favoured by the Young British Artists, was the most effective medium.

Saatchi said: "For the last ten years, only five of the 40 Turner Prize artists have been pure painters.

"We think it's time for a painting survey, looking at established international artists and later on in the year, the younger new young painters."

County Hall's wood panelling will be refurbished with white screens and its rooms will be re-designed to make space for larger paintings.

Works by Emin, Hirst, the Chapman brothers and Sarah Lucas will not return to the South Bank until 2007, after a probable international tour.

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