Creativity, Destruction and Sensation: Damien Hirst’s Desire to Destroy £10 Million Art | Damien Hirst

THe created two cultural phenomena, both designed to confuse us, and both are now worth a lot of money: The art of Damien Hirst And the notorious non-fungible tokens or NFTs. They have already puzzled many art lovers among them. This month brings them together in a dramatic event that will be organized during it London friezea moment when the international art world turns its fickle attention to the capital.

And as if the combination of this infamous British artist and the obscure digital art market wasn’t explosive enough, it promised a real shot. Hearst It is the highlight of Artwork from his first NFT collection worth £10 million. To his critics, the expensive stunt would mark the low water level in a career built on headlines and a brassy neck. For fans, it’s an opportunity to look at the influence of the teacher.

The Hearst fire is set to begin on Tuesday, October 11, in front of a virtual audience and invited guests at its Newport Street gallery. The burning routine will continue daily at specific times until it is exposed. the currency, It closes at the end of the month.

The artworks themselves, a series of 10,000 images featuring his trademark colored dots, were launched by digital arts service Heni last year, with each one represented by a virtual token, or NFT, worth £2,000. Collectors have had the opportunity to keep a token or physical artwork, and by this summer, 5,149 tangible objects have been selected, while 4,851 have chosen NFTs. These original 4,851 photos will now be destroyed.

Damien Hirst's sculpture, Death Denies
Damien Hirst’s sculpture, Death Denied. Photo: Justin Thales/AFP/Getty Images

For Laura Cumming, author and observer An art critic, this outwardly provocative work is fully consistent with the artist’s practice. “Damien Hirst has long made the market his medium and message,” she said this weekend. “His last trick is completely self-contained in these terms.

“He’s always been brilliant in epigrams and this is like concentrated crack cocaine from epigrams. It’s called coin and that’s what it’s about, and what it’s for – art is perfection, making money with art. And this, in turn, goes straight to the heart of Frieze Week.”

Hirst’s early fireworks display will be far from the first artistic foreplay with a spectacle of destruction. Before Banksy surprised that auction room in 2018 by automatically ripping off his picture of Girl With Balloon, KLF had stunned the music world by burning £1m on Jura in the summer of 1994. And in 2001, artist Michael started Landy Destroy all his property Inside an abandoned store.

Indiscriminate demolition is alarming, although anyone who has built a sand castle or snowman is aware of the charge that the threat of extermination brings to creativity. Definitely, 2009 Turner Prize Winner Richard Wright He considered the eventual destruction of his intricate murals part of their essence, and claimed to be quite optimistic about it.

The images that make up the coin on paper were handcrafted in 2016 using enamel paint, then digitized, watermarked, hologram and minute points, plus stamped and randomly titled from the lyrics of Hearst’s favorite songs, before signing on the back.

The artist sees the series as a way to allow the audience to participate by buying, exchanging or selling his work. To the outside world, however, it is this kind of trick that has given contemporary art such a bad name. But then, without a bad name, where could this art be? Instead of the punk wave of music in the late 1970s, it was Young British Artists In the late ’90s it wouldn’t have made much of an impact without slaughtering some sacred cows, and eventually pickles.

The Sex Pistols’ music wasn’t cute or sweet, but it was sexy and Hearst was the YBA equivalent. Like Johnny Rotten, he asked the annoying questions that modern art often asked, but in a much more aggressive form. Questions like, what is art and where is it different from craft and design, or even a visual joke? We may all understand that a medicine cabinet is a medicine cabinet, but if you fill an art gallery with it, it means something more. But what value or meaning would you have if you then mass-produced these pill tanks? NFTs have now taken such conceptual puzzles a step further by removing the need for any product at all.

For God's Love, Complete Platinum Die of a Human Skull, by Damien Hirst.
For God’s Love, Complete Platinum Die of a Human Skull, by Damien Hirst. Photo: Reuters

“If anyone wanted to play with NFTs and their value, it was Damien Hirst,” said Louisa Buck. The art newspaper A contemporary art reporter, admitting she is “not one of those who think NFTs are the spawn of the devil.” “He’s always been really good at playing with the art market. But a lot of the artwork he made along the way, that’s a different story.”

Buck points to the changing quality of 223 Hearst’s works that were auctioned in the controversial London Clearance sale 2008Action, which ranged from the great to the “obnoxious”. It was such a fiasco that art dealers were allegedly forced to buy back some works in secret to protect the value of the artist’s production.

And when it comes to that diamond skull [which Hirst initially claimed sold for £50m in 2007, before later backtracking], who knows if Hearst owned it, or who bought it,” Buck said. “However, he’s done a great job patrolling the area asking what is art and what is a commodity. Whatever happened next, he has already produced some of the most amazing artwork of the past few decades, such as Mother and Child (segmented) pieces, Cow and Calf in Tanks, and Shark in Formaldehyde. Or a hundred years, installation of flies. You shouldn’t forget about the spot paintings, too. Of course, he was referring to the art of people like Bridget Riley. He is steeped in art history.”

However, not everyone was slightly deceived. This weekend, a co-worker in the art group told me that the hype around Hearst was “almost as boring as his horrible act.” Compare it to giving space to Cliff Richard on the music pages.

If nothing else, Hearst’s role as a catalyst and promoter of the YBA movement was undeniable. His ambition was there from the start, when he and other notables set up an exhibition in an abandoned building beside the Thames called Freeze in 1988. Almost empty on the day I visited, by luck, at the time, the legendary show shook with extreme nervousness and visual abundance. Sensation, a controversial YBA show at the Royal Academy in London, followed in 1997 and thereafter the rock star lifestyle of a wealthy bohemian awaited Hearst.

Today, it’s still the kind of celebrity who attracts anecdotes. A friend, for example, remembers setting fire to a caravan at a music festival. Then came his Devon empire, including the elegant Ilfracombe restaurant, and a proliferation of animated paintings. Scandalous news coverage over the years has ranged from tame revelations that he didn’t fully do his job, to speculation about the health of His Sinking Treasure Parodyto recent allegations that he shed many employees during the pandemic.

The most serious blows from art critics included the condemnation of Robert Hughes, the late champion of modern painting and sculpture. In a Channel 4 film, the Australian critic said that Hearst operated as a “brand”, had “small facilities” and that the shark, the physical impossibility of dying in someone’s mind, was “the world’s most highly rated shark.”

Criticism of Hearst’s skill as a painter is more than justified, according to Buck: “Hearst faded when he began to see himself as a painter, standing in the studio in a jacket and hat, while he could barely paint,” he said.

The opening of the new NFT show sparked an in-kind reaction from one of the critics. An artist named Victor smashed one of Hearst’s dotted ceramic panels onto the sidewalk outside the Vauxhall Gallery in protest, before burning a book he now plans to sell for £250,000 as a commentary on the ‘comic art market’.

Art isn’t all about stunts, of course. But it is about stimulating images and ideas, some of which look directly at the idea of ​​art itself. The value we place on the image is always up to us, just as it is with faith in a currency. As Hearst once said when asked if the sunken treasures he presented at the 2017 Venice Biennale were real: “Myth or reality… whatever you choose to believe.”

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