On March 19th, Blake Gopnik, a reporter for Newsweek Magazine, wrote an article about Damien Hirst, claiming that the artist is the most natural heir to Andy Warhol and “business art.” Indeed, the significance of Hirst’s work is lost if it is ripped from the context of the contemporary art market. It’s a kind of art that brings marketing, buying, and selling into the work of art itself.
Gopnik argues that this is different from Hirst’s early works, such as his shark suspended in formaldehyde entitled, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, which were finite works of art in an of themselves. They were singular, impressive objects about death that were intended to invoke a visceral response from an audience. These days, his art incorporates more about the media, the art market, and his collectors. The artist claims that his work reflects this world back to his audience.
In 2007, Hirst created For the Love of God, a platinum skull encrusted with over 8,500 flawless diamonds (above) and priced it at $100 million – the highest price ever paid for a single work by a living artist. On one hand, the skull is another work of art about the grand theme of death; yet, with the huge price tag, money became the subject of the work of art. The price really was to demonstrate the lunacy in the contemporary art market. And the sculpture did sell… to Hirst and a number of friends.
Damien Hirst is the only artist who could pull off a stunt like this.
More works of art by Damien Hirst
Watch Damien Hirst’s guided tour through his own retrospective exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, which will be on view through September 9th, 2012