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Monday 02.20.06

« Hans Holbein's Madonna of Mercy at PAM | Main | Mexterminator vs. the Global Predator »

The impossiblity of more Damien Hirst in the mind of someone living in the art world?

In Sunday's Observer Sean O'Hagan had a nice chit chat with Damien Hirst whose latest show opens up in Mexico City on Wednesday.

A couple of things:

1) This is not in New York, London or even LA, which is very smart. Mexico City at 21 million dwarfs New York and Hirst is reminding the art world of this. In an equally calculated move last March, Hirst treated New York to a show of his less than best work, a series of paintings. The message from Hirst was clear, he could dominate New York with second stringers and it was hilarious to watch. Basically, he's out to show he can make his own weather, and in a deeply religious and syncretic country like Mexico he should do fine. Also, it's not like people with the cash for a Hirst would somehow be impeded by any location, especially if he's showing better work than was available in New York.

2) The article points out that Hirst is, "more famous and more powerful than any other living artist." This seems like a foregone conclusion for the British but for us here stateside this isn't that obvious. Why? Hirst hasn't had a major US museum retrospective and Americans for better or worse defer to their institutions (possibly because we treat what little culture we have with kid gloves, whereas the British assault its suffocating tenure). Still it's a good move to remind American museums that he hasn't had a retrospective by hitting us below the belt in Mexico (Canada wouldn't quite work as well you know).

3) The spin paintings are drivel but entertaining as bad painting drivel. The butterflies are interesting and his vitrines are usually amazing. Despite the inherent camp in his work the focus on death insures it a certain immutable resonance even if he acts up for the ham loving British press. Like Picasso, he very much controls his own market and that is a big deal… if you cant beat the market system's inherent influence… just control the market... it's not that tough when you control production. To boot he synthesizes minimalism, pop and was doing autopises on the dead ideas that have not been resuscitated way before Dana Schutz did.

It should be curated; Hirst, Schutz, Warhol, Murakami, Durant, Furnas, Cao Fei and maybe Banks Violette... call the show "Mortality?"

Posted by Jeff Jahn on February 20, 2006 at 22:00 | Comments (2)


I saw his show last year in NYC. A lot of people were against it as he supposedly did not paint the things himself. I don't care. It was a spectacle. Gorgeous.

Posted by: lsd [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2006 07:58 PM

I liked the skull painting... it was ok in a spectacular kind of way, which tells you something about the strength of the artist.

I should also point out that the observer piece is the typical sort of sensationalist thing the British press regularly print on Hirst. Yes he can be a mess but he has moments of brilliance that make people like Matthew Barney seem more like the empty specacle that many accuse Hirst of stooping to.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2006 08:51 PM

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