Damien Hurst

Here’s the deal. A week or two ago I blog-posted about a Yayoi Kusama artwork that involved a lot of spots. I posted a photo, but it was a “process piece” so if you didn’t follow the link to “This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids” you should because the photo I posted was just a moment in time. But if that’s asking too much, here’s another photo of the artwork later in its development.

Yayoi Kusama

While it’s entirely possible that both photos were staged, it’s interesting to consider what the human interaction reveals. In the top photo a woman silently contemplates, well, what exactly? Profundity? In the bottom photo a child is playing, or perhaps just banging on a piano.

I learned about the Kusama piece through the blogisphere. I didn’t see any MSM mentions.

So exactly what are the MSM talking about and what is the photo at the beginning of this post?

This is the BIG show right now in the art world, and I do mean the art WORLD. This is the current Damien Hirst show “The Complete Spot Paintings, 1986-2011” that’s being presented in all eleven Larry Gagosian galleries including “three in New York; two in London; and one each in Paris, Geneva, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong, and Beverly Hills.” Swimming pools, movie stars.

Consider the difference between the two dot art pieces. Kusama creates an environment as blank canvas and gives thousands of kids the freedom to participate in something that evolves into an incredible visual delight. Hirst dictates the parameters of each painting and pays lackeys to do the work for thousands of paintings, each of which figuratively says “sucker.” Kusama’s piece was likely grant funded but made lots of people very happy. Hirst has accumulated a personal fortune selling this work while the public shakes its collective head in disbelief.

I want to rant but it’s such a waste of time. You know what I’m talking about. Here’s the critic from Newsweek carrying water for Gagosian. Here, with at least some perspective is Peter Schjeldahl from the New Yorker:

“I can enjoy looking at one for a while, but to like them would entail identifying with the artist’s cynicism, as herds of collectors, worldwide, evidently do. Hirst will go down in history as a peculiarly cold-blooded pet of millennial excess wealth.”

A “pet of millennial excess wealth.” I like that image. A lapdog to hedge-fund managers. Indulging the ignorance of the one percent. No wonder rank-and-file citizens think the arts are a waste.

Bottom line is it’s hard to hate on Hirst given that he’s basically exposing the one percenters as fools. I smirk at the thought that they have to live with that crap in their living rooms. But I do hate the fact that a smart, talented person would devote themselves to such cynicism for money. I wish he’d treat his critique as a righteous cause, but instead it’s just about playing the system by its own rules. Seems like he’s becoming what he despises most.

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