I’ll shut up if you will: ‘Damien Hirst’

Damien Hirst has played a blinder. Make no mistake: he will take his place in the annals of Art History, despite having no discernible artistic talent whatsoever; his show at the Wallace Collection, variously described as ‘risible’ (by me) and ‘juvenile’ (by Adrian Searle), was proof enough of that.

Riding on the coat-tails of Conceptual Art, Hirst has become its apotheosis, and therefore, all being well, the final nail in its coffin. After the banality, the unashamed and ubridled ‘appropriation’ (see below) – what the great Anselm Kiefer termed ‘Anti-art’,- there is surely nowhere left for it to go.

You see, his greatest work, his masterpiece, is Damien Hirst: he has taken the ‘idea’ of himself as an artist, an ex-enfant terrible, and run with it, creating a global brand made spectacularly manifest in the fatuous ego-fest that is the Gagosian exhibitions. This, self-promotion, is his genius.

Where does that leave the work itself?
It leaves it to a large degree irrelevant, a mere prop in the pantomime. It is contingent, tangential; it cannot stand alone, it needs it ‘author’ (ha!) and critics who should know better to speak for it, to give it context, because without Hirst it has neither meaning nor value. This is just about the worst thing I can say about ‘art’ – call me old-fashioned but I believe in autonomy: good art needs no apologetics, it is entire unto itself; it has integrity.

So when I see Hirst banging on that “art is more powerful than money” I wonder why he doesn’t just pull his finger out and make some (art, that is; we all know he’s as rich as Croesus)? Or is it just another disingenuous ‘line’ in the ‘Damien Hirst Show’ that has about as much real heft as “It’s behind you!”?

Go to the Hockney and be ‘exhilarated’; be ‘seduced’ by the Freud. Go to the Hirst(s) and think ‘What the fuck?’

It’s not enough, and never was.


The Art Damien Hirst Stole: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fq4CerVEgQ

13 thoughts on “I’ll shut up if you will: ‘Damien Hirst’

  1. No one uses the word “risible” any more. Shame.

    Hennessy Youngman killed it on the topic of Damien Hirst:

    I myself think he is a sign of our decaying civilization. When this is the sort of thing that gets made and shown and valued, that pretty much proves how fucked up our culture is.

    We’re going the way of the dodo, I fear, but think of how much better off the planet will be without all the silly humans on it.

  2. Hopefully it’s behind us all. Was actually very pleased when he decided to paint, all by himself, and failed.

  3. We all know the lack of ‘craft’ that goes into a Hirst-work but the added crime is the intellectual dumbing down. All art is to some extent conceptual (Kiefer especially) and the best art merges thought and sensation. But Hirst’s ‘sensory concepts’ are so transparent as to be laughable…which may well be the point. The very weak visual pun has replaced ‘poetic thinking’ and is symptomatic of modern times and broadband speeds…

    • Totally agree, especially about ‘thought and sensation’, and this is where I feel too much art tagged as ‘conceptual’ fails: I can think of no truly great piece of music, art, literature that does not engage both head and heart. As you say, Hirst doesn’t even the engage head…I think you’re right about modern times too: his art is X Factor art to me: full of sound and fury and signifying nothing, easily digestible, easily disposable. Now someone like Felix Gonzalez-Torres…..feel another post coming on!

  4. Pingback: Sharks ‘n’ Sh*t… (lest we forget) | t'arthead

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