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Friday 01.12.07

« Virtuoso Vindicated: Storm Tharp at PDX Contemporary | Main | 18 Painters • Mt. Hood Community College Visual Arts Gallery »

Hirst and McMakin at PAM this weekend

Damien Hirst Autopsy with Sliced Human Brain 2004

Tomorrow the Damien Hirst show at The Portland Art Museum opens in the Miller-Meigs endowed room in the Jubitz Center. This is only his second solo US museum show and the first on the West Coast. Culled from the holdings of supercollector Eli Broad it is a major coupe even if it is a small show. Hirst is one of the two most influential living artists today (the other is Murakami) and without him people like Matthew Barney, Banks Violette, David Altmejd, Gregory Crewdson (think presentationism) and even Jarrett Mitchell wouldn't have been quite the same. Hirst brought death back into contemporary art in a way that only Warhol and Picasso can also claim. Unlke most current stars (but like Murakami) he was very generous and artists like Tracy Emin, Sarah Lucas and Marc Quinn were direct recipients of his promotional efforts. I also like the fact he worked as a gallery installer before becoming famous, it shows as he is the master of presentation.

Unlike other artists he also controls his own market, who else has transcended the system like that? Some maintain his persona and success have overshadowed the work but I think it's his way of pushing away the death inherent in having major museum's mount major retrospectives, he's circumventing the blockbuster system creating his own weather. He's even still doing some excellent work (but of course he's a risk taker and has his share of flubs). His vitrines like 1000 Years and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living are master works of Fin de siecle 20th Century art and this show sports a nice vitrine along with a bank of 3 medicine cabinets and a painting or two. Yes there are opening for these shows and space is limited so you've got to join the Contemporary Art Council (disclosure Im Co-VP)... yes there are less costly artist memberships, just ask. After Hirst it is Kehinde Wiley... PAM is doing a nice job!

Sunday is also the last day for Roy McMakin's show and inaugural offering for Jennifer Gately's new Apex Program so get over to the museum this weekend. Chris Johanson is next.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on January 12, 2007 at 10:53 | Comments (2)


I like Hirst's paintings. The medicine cabinets are kind of hard to wrap my head around when they're not shown in context with Hirst's other work. There was one in Miami in show of other name brand artists (Koons, Warhol, Cattelan, etc), and it didn't seem like anything at all. But not in a good way. It was kind of funny thinking about how the collector was probably so proud to have a Hirst on display that i didn't really matter whether or not the piece was any good. Funny. Everybody who makes and shows art could learn a lesson from this.

Posted by: jerseyjoe [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 12, 2007 02:02 PM

I generally like the medicine cabinets but the vitrines are the reason he's so important.

The show looks pretty good (most of it is later stuff)... the cheeky pop part comes across but so does the more arid formality. The work provoked a lot of discussion which just goes to show how good Hirst is at pressing buttons, he studies human nature by provoking his viewers.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 14, 2007 11:46 AM

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