Thursday, December 14, 2006

Because I am worth it

I have been keen to talk about Damien Hirst since recently visiting his buggerme, I mean murderme, collection at the Serpentine Gallery. And I was reminded of him this morning with news of a £50m Goldman Sucks bonus. To put such a figure into context, it is equivalent to half of Hirst's estimated personal worth and is equal to the expected asking price on his current work in progress - a life-size platinum cast of a skull covered entirely in diamonds (8,500 of them to be exact) entitled 'For the love of God.' The cost of the raw materials, including a 50-karat diamond in the center of the skull, will be £10m which puts Hirst's personal contribution at a value of £40m. Then there will be the small problem of security.

Since when did both a banker and a (living) artist command the same unassailable market value? Hirst's diamond skull presumably represents wealth and death in a stand-off. But is it just an act of self-mockery suggesting that nothing is worth such extortionate value alive? Or, rather is he saying he just wants to celebrate life and say to hell with death by covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? Because if so, wouldn't a more befitting name be "Because I am worth it"?

'For the love of God' will be the centrepiece of a forthcoming Hirst show, Beyond Belief, which will inaugurate Jay Jopling's new White Cube gallery, in London's West End in June 2007.

'In the darkest hour there may be light' - a selection of works from Damien Hirst's private collection is on now until Jan 28 2007. Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2


Anonymous Jen12 said...

Interesting post. Though I like contemporary art that stirs and provokes I also do not see that awe that some have for Damien Hirst. His ideas (though simple) do retain in my mind, but id rather watch nature whilst its still alive, instead of floating in formaldehyde. Or dead covered in diamonds.

5:16 pm  
Anonymous HeartyBowl said...

We are always supposed to be impressed by Hirst's oh-so brave confrontation and "fearless depiction of death in his art (and in the art he buys). But it's the least authentic confrontation of death imaginable: never once does Hirst allow his ego to be conquered. So yes CS I agree "Because I am worth it" makes much more sense.

5:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His stupid skull idea is obviously modelled on the ones here by Steven Gregory. You can't take it with you, but you may as well pile as much of it up while you can. Just depicting death and decay doesn't mean you're tuned into it. And all those faux-confessional noises Hirst has made recently about getting old, slowing down, knocking on heaven's door etc. -- I suppose he might take comfort in being told not to worry, that he's a still a permanent child, and not in a good way.

5:23 pm  
Anonymous honkman said...

In an otherwise too cranky editorial in the Telegraph about Hirst's depressing nihilism, there's this excellent idea: "..Indeed it is a writer we must turn to on this occasion, Ibsen, no less, who distinguished between those who go down to the sewers to bathe, and those (like himself) who went there to purify."

5:31 pm  
Anonymous Tanya said...

The thing that most - and there were many- irritated me abuot murderme where the 2 Banksy's included. I know Hirst loves Banksy but Banksy should only be in the Serpentine, or any institution, as an intruder, not as an invited guest.

Banksy discredits his own stubbornly one-dimensional guerrilla project by entering the art world proper, and when we're asked to judge his rabble rousing one-liners as fine art, naturally they don't stand up. In fact they are feeble and irritating.

5:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Guardian basically begs us not to follow the hordes into this Hirst show.

Read here

5:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If what we see now in the Serpentine is a true sample of his curatorial abilities then fairly soon I suspect buggerme would be a much better name for his collection.

£50m for him, my arse.

5:39 pm  
Anonymous Nat said...

I checked out that exhibit last week as well. Some of the works I had seen before at Saatchi's Gallery on the South Bank, especially the Sarah Lucas pieces. I particularly liked a collection of bejewelled skulls, which had large false eyes and were very evocative of people, and I spent a long time reading a Sean Landen painting, which was a stream of consciousness over two large canvases.

But don't think he is all that. Cannot believe he fancies himself £40-£50 worth!

6:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't worked out if I love or hate Damien Hirst. He's an artist that you have to either embrace or reject completely. One thing that no one can deny the artist, is that he is a master marketer.

6:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damien Hirst is more like a celebrity than an artist...he has made it to the point where whatever he does vies for attention. It's like how we read the covers of tabloids while waiting in line at the grocery store. It's mostly us the public that make someone famous. If nobody bought those magazines or raved about certain movies (Da Vinci Code) or made a fuss about the crazy stunts (David Blaine) would these 'artists' be as famous?

6:33 pm  
Anonymous Ella said...

Is something art just because it is in a gallery?

6:37 pm  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Hi CS--
When someone once asked Andy Warhol why he had papered a large gallery at the Whitney Museum with garishly coloured wallpaper patterned with the head of a cow, he replied that he wanted New Yorkers to be able to stand at the entrance to the show, look into the gallery, and be able to say truthfully that they'd seen the Warhol exhibition. The same could (almost) be said about the Serpentine's show of Damien Hirst's private collection.

Damien Hirst with Sarah Lucas's neon coffin
Hirst has a taste for the macabre, but also for art that is hard and shallow, dirty-minded, and kind of fun. As addicts say of a line of cocaine, you take it in fast and it leaves you feeling empty. While you are in the galleries, you have a good time, but the minute you leave you don't quite know where you've been. The whole thing is like one of the American artist Richard Prince's paintings of one-line jokes: you look, you smile, you move on.

11:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me say a word about the ringmaster, Mr Hirst, and the catalogue that accompanies this show. If, like me, you assumed that at some point he would discuss the reasons he admires and collects these artists, dream on.

For connoisseurs of the celebrity interview, Hirst's with Serpentine curator Hans Ulrich Obrist is a classic of the genre. Never for one sentence does our Damien stray from the all-important subject of himself and his work, unless it be to tell us how much f***ing money he has, how much he paid for the s*** he owns, or how much the whole f***ing collection is worth.

He has become one of the great British monsters. And alas, we are lucky to have him.
Later City Slicker!

11:29 am  
Anonymous ghb said...

I'm very attached to the idea that art can be anything at all – except to be without visual interest.

11:31 am  

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