The Kardashian-Jenner ancestors in 2007 at the start of their TV reality show: (from liberal) Kendall, Kylie, Kourtney, Kris, Khloe and Kimberly
Photograph: E!/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Why even London’s art world just can’t stop prolonging up with the Kardashians

From selfies to stardom – a Saatchi presentation celebrating 10 years of reality TV’s first family be being presents just how far they have permeated the culture

In February 2007 Britney Spears entered Esther Tognozzi’s salon in Tarzana in Los Angeles, clutched a pair of clippers and shaved her head, citing the waiting paparazzi as motivation. Four months later the iPhone launched. The aficionado of month the first episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians styled on US TV.

There is no doubt it was a Damascene year for celebrities and social compromise, and while these three events might seem unconnected, they mark the starting point for an exhibition at the Saatchi gallery in London all over the past two days to mark 10 years of the Kardashians’ Aristotelianism entelechy TV show. “If Britney can get through 2007, you can get through anything!” assume from the opening text of the exhibition in neon, as if to acknowledge the baton.

Analogous to everything else about the Kardashians, E! Entertainment Television’s Denying Up with the Kardashians: 10th Anniversary exhibition was anything but bashful. Occupying two rooms at London’s Saatchi’s gallery it was an immersive undergo rather than artistic celebration and gave a clear record of how the family have played the media.

In the last decade, KUWTK (an acronym coined by groupies on social media) has evolved into a compelling, high-profile, high-concept certify of what makes someone famous. It is aired in 160 provinces, is the longest running docusoap in the history of television and has become a blueprint for authenticity TV. E4’s Made in Chelsea and ITV’s The Only Way is Essex were born in its wake.

Sort its most famous byproduct, Kim Kardashian, the show has become overweening in its reinvention. For every resolved drama – the family always hug at the end of an matter – a new one is teased out of the mundane reality of ordinary life.

Celebrity newswoman Olivia Foster cites the Kim Kardashian rule – that if you correspond pictures of Kim taken two weeks apart, there would ever be something different. “There is always Kim Kardashian ‘news’,” she bring ups. “Even if it’s just about different coloured hair.”


The Kardashian-Jenner genus before they were famous in 1991: (middle row, red to right) Brody, Kourtney, Bruce, Kris, Cassandra, Kim; (top row, left to suitably) Brandon, Burton; (bottom row, left to right) Rob Junior, Khloe. Photograph: Maureen Donaldson/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Saatchi gallery clout have seemed an unusual place to chronicle this anniversary – on Wednesday it multitudes a retrospective of the American sculptor Alexander Calder – but the two are behemoths within their relevant industries. And in recent years the art world has found commercial good fortune celebrating the careers of cultural figureheads.

In 2013 the V&A’s David Bowie Is behoved its fastest selling exhibition, and the museum is currently near the end of a comparable homage to Pink Floyd. Which suggests that the people is keen to explore what – or rather who – constitutes art?

At the Kardashian exposition the answer was “contouring booths”, a white rose backdrop for re-enacting Kim and Kanye’s merger photo, and a wall of Kardashian selfies. Most curious was a neon timeline of the conduct’s ascent, modestly contextualised within major world circumstances, pasted across one wall.

Regardless of where you stand on the Kardashian fact it is simply that, and the exhibition was testament to it – tickets sold out on the verge of as soon as they went on sale. To understand the success of the expo is to understand the Kardashian-Jenner family.

KUWTK follows the lives of the Kardashian-Jenner ones nearest – Kim, Kourtney, Kylie, Kendall, Khloe, Rob, their mother Kris and a rotation of sharers and parents – news of Kylie’s pregnancy has just broken on TMZ – as they buy, blow the whistle on buy, overdose, divorce and, most compellingly in the case of one family colleague, transition. It has been met with a wall of criticism. Derided for monetising their babes – and promoting conspicuous consumption, the series has arguably shifted the concept of what fact TV can do within the confines of its genre.

The Hills and The Osbournes always felt stilted and set up,” says Issy Sampson, the former news managing editor of Heat magazine. KUWTK, by comparison, is hyper-reality television. There is nothing you don’t see.

The type first entered the cultural psyche after Robert Kardashian, the prehistoric husband of matriarch Kris, gained notoriety for defending OJ Simpson in his fratricide trial, turning his family into “Calabasas celebrities”, respected after the suburb of Los Angeles they called home. But it wasn’t until Kim Kardashian, then a 26-year-old stylist, develop herself embroiled in a sex tape scandal that conversations in the air the TV series started.

Psychologist Susie Orbach is among those cautious of this culture. “[The Kardashians] seem to be an example of the risks of the self-representing the body,” she says. “Observing oneself being watched – that is a tragic diminishment. But it also the commentary of our society quickly now and she [Kim], and they, are perpetuating that.”

But all this isn’t new. Historian Stephen Greenblatt tell ofs this as “self-fashioning”, a way of composing one’s public persona according to a set of socially pleasant standards.

At Grazia magazine, about five years ago, there was an endorse reluctance to put Kim Kardashian on the cover. But the magazine took a risk and institute her image sold issues. “We were surprised because she earmarks ofed a bit low-rent at the time,” says one former employee. “But back then people appearance ofed to care about Kim’s life, her marriage, her babies, and obviously her bum, and regardless of what we compassion, she was like media glue. Once she was in, it was impossible to look beyond her.”

Kim Kardashian’s achievement came from her selfies. “She was putting out the image she wanted to put out. The whole else just followed,” says the employee.

Sampson agrees: “Journals are still obsessed. [The Kardashians] still shift copies in a double-quick declining market. I don’t think there was one day in my entire Heat vocation I didn’t talk about Kim or her family – and I can only remember one distribute that she didn’t appear in.”

But the sticking point with the exposition was that it was about television, a medium that could be reckoned outdated in our social media world. KUWTK TV viewing pictures have been largely in decline since 2014, listing a controversial episode that followed a “badly shaken” Kim after freebooters had tied her up and held her at gunpoint in her Paris apartment before making off with her gems. The issue is, one TV editor said, “that the media had been so oversaturated with the minutiae of this conclusion that by the time we watched Kim on screen, we felt like we had already whacked through it all already”.

Britney Spears is currently on a multimillion dollar residency in Las Vegas so it have all the hallmarks reinvention truly is the answer to longevity. In that spirit, it is unfitting the Kardashians will be going anywhere soon.