I read an article, I think in the British Sunday Times Magazine, years ago, it was about a young up and coming English Art Student who was just graduating from London Goldsmiths. It showed the young art student in his frugal apartment in some crappy tower block probably in Hackney with his girlfriend, I think it was his girlfriend anyway, I could just have imagined that. The Times article went on to say how this artist was taking part in a second term exhibition with some fellow art students and they were calling that exhibition “Freeze”. All of this was very interesting for an art obsessed no talent like myself, it was good yet puzzling to see some young student being given a prime spot in this very influential English Magazine, I soaked it all up with great relish.
Can’t remember too many of the finer details from this two page spread, I can remember though how I was struck by the photographs of Mr. Hirst himself and amused by his very flippant attitude . Now I had spent a lot of time around British art students in the 80’s, I shared a large house with them in my home town of Wolverhampton in the Midlands, Two and a Half, Clifford St, yes that was its real official address, long story but happy days. I had also spent a lot of time around, shall we call them, “Gentlemen of the Streets” you know the type; they would steal the urinal you were peeing in and sell it back to you with a grin on their face and without a blink of remorse in their eye. I definitely got the distinct impression, looking at the article and photos, that Damien had many of the characteristics and attitudes of both these special social types, written all over him. He reminded me of a hirsute young Phil Collins, he had that look, it’s halfway between the artful dodger and the early Genesis rock drummer period. That look that says I’m a cheeky smart chappie but keep your hands in your pockets mate, or I’m having it away with your small change. Interesting, I thought, I will keep an eye on this young fella-me-lad, he could go far……
Well I did and Mr. Hirst has not disappointed me, he has certainly been having it away lately, $198 Million Dollars worth of small change in fact. I have to admit, I for one, find it extremely amusing and satisfying that this working class guy can pry open the wallets and extract the gravy as easily as he does from the hands of the cash burdened classes. He sweeps all before him with his success and his ability to attract the corporate gamblers the individual spectators, the over educated, under experienced intellectuals and of course the “I must have it” opportunists, from all over the world with his “New Wave Art” has made him the wealthiest living artist ever, Picasso is spinning in his grave today,trust me.
What is Damien Hirst‘s art though?
No, no, I am not referring to his cows and sharks in formaldehyde, or his spin paintings or the dot stuff or the flies under glass, that’s not his real art, his real art is selling this stuff and laughing up his sleeve whilst he does it! Mr. Hurst has become so good at it and so brazen that he has been telling everyone for years, if they cared enough to listen, that this stuff is an examination of the “Art Worlds” ability sucks up anything in the name of Art. It’s nothing new, Marcel Duchamp did it and justified it one way, Andy Warhol did it and justified it another, Hirst is doing it “straight out of the can” and is “man up” enough to admit to it, from day one. Hirst is stretching and straining the thin line between acceptable creativity and crap and the modern art dilettante just suck it up, at great expense, laugh as if they are in on the joke and justify it as the eccentricity of the artist’s genius. Testicles ! he’s having a laugh and enjoying every second of it.
Fantastic! Good On Ya Son!
At last, all those poor paint spattered sods that scratched and clawed their way into a gallery saleroom, only to be rebuffed by the Obertruppführer’s of good taste, they are finally getting some revenge through you. It is a fine working class joke of course and like any good inventive comedian Mr. Hirst is getting well paid for his shtick but like all good jokes it has on foot in fantasy the other planted solidly on the ground and another up the posterior of the audience. I believe that its socially representative art too, it’s an art that sums up the times that we live in, with its worship of the ephemeral and anti-esthete, a shallow celebrity obsessed society that craves new “Stuff” like a junkie craves the stinging kiss of the needle.
Damien is in the place he always said he wanted to be, through the initial clever manipulation and sponsorship of a man who epitomized the 80s Damien he has become the man who embodies the spirit of the new 21st Century. Things have gone well for this Brizzal boy, he has now unquestionably proved his theory that you can get away with anything if you call it art, slap a high price on it and have the momentum and volume so that you cannot be ignored by the institutions and money bags who are afraid to drop the ball. Damien is sticking it to them big time and I applaud him for it, he has replaced John Lennon as my working class hero and although I despise the system of which he has become the master manipulator, I do like the jokes and begrudgingly some of the products of the joke.
This “Art” has nothing to do with painting, the term art is used in its very broadest sense and probably has more to do with Theater than painting, it is art though and in the authors opinion worthy of the title but worth the hundreds of millions, of course not. I just think there must be a lot of spare change out there and Damien Hurst is just the boy to take it and fill a huge Bells Scotch Whiskey bottle with it and stand in in the corner of his living room, next to the telly.
Now then ,does any body want to buy Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”