Sunday, 14 September 2008

The physical impossibility of artistic talent in the mind of Damien Hirst

I've never liked Damien Hirst. His art always seemed a triumph of hype over artistic value. Cutting animals in half reveals no truths, conveys neither beauty nor horror, but simply creates a spectacle for consumption by the art market.

It was only when he encrusted a skull with diamonds that I really began to loathe him, though. Here was a work of art that was a celebration of the fact the artist could cover a skull with precious stones and some prick would buy it for £50 million. Hirst virtually said as much in the Newsnight Review special he appeared on, as Kirsty Wark fawned over him. Hirst claimed the diamonds were 'ethically sourced', though gave no details. Even if they were all certified through the Kimberly Process, that only excludes so-called 'blood diamonds' - they would still have been produced by notoriously exploitative mining industry.

£50 million isn't, of course, the most that anyone has ever paid for an art work, but by producing such a self-consciously expensive work, Hirst gave a metaphorical slap in the face to every person in the world who struggles to make enough money to eat - some of whom may well have dug the diamonds themselves from the ground.

Anyway, the auction of his latest work, a pickled calf with gold decoration, has prompted art historian Robert Hughes (author of 'The Shock of the New', a definitive account of modernism in art) into a public attack on his work, calling it absurd and tacky. Entertaining reading, and not before time.

1 comment:

Justin said...

More indictments of the Kimberley Process: the first is blatant self-promotion on my part, the second represents the braver and rather more thorough work of Angolan activists.