Art in a Hirst

As proven by Love is What You Want last summer, any opportunity to preview new work from Britain’s sung artists should, in theory, be reveled. Last night I attended the private viewing of super-brand Damien Hirst’s latest hanging: Spot Prints. The Other Criteria gallery, New Bond Street was the usual affair of stationary crowds creating the usual condensation-creating bustling crowd. The art did not warrant or elicit such precipitation. 

It’s been scantly missed that Damien represents the demur side to art. In the documentary The Mona Lisa Curse we gleaned that firstly, Damien (as I’m sure plenty of other artists do) bought his own For the Love of God in association with White Cube gallery – spurring a generation to create a gruesome boutique, business and abode with decorous skulls. An important measure lest the value of subsequent works slopes and damages Brand Hirst, it appears that spectacle creates publicity, which does not always equate to sales. Secondly, in a parallel maneuver, it’s been evidenced in irrefutable black, white and pained stock lists that more copies of the eminent artist’s work exists than is reported. Once again, value of commodity decreases if the demand is diluted.

It would be rather naive to protest that art is any different than any other business, and, like in any business, to prolong a peak it is necessary to qualify as a brand: unique, dynamic and readily duplicated. Art thrives on duplication – whether it be for for the canvas above a young liberals bedroom or embellished on a coaster, key-ring or ashtray in the playground-like cornucopias of gallery and museum gift shops. 

Spot Prints was a thrust in the direction of dispassionate commerce; the accompanying texts gaily announced that the orientated and reasonably spaced-apart colour charts multicoloured dots will be available for linear pleasure on the ‘Spot Tea Towel, Spot Canvas Tote Bag, Spot Mug and a Spot Coin Purse’. The Spot Pad and Spot Pod will presumably be unveiled next season. Not to mention the competitive element introduced, anyone who sees all 11 exhibitions of spot paintings opening in the Gagosian galleries of the world. 

It seems contrary to usual practice for merchandise to be in mind when the art is created, yet judging by the examples mentioned at the beginning of this post, Hirst certainly knows how to swell his brand. It could be compared to Fashion Week debuting next seasons lines, or Tesco inviting us all for a three course meal before restocking their shelves.

Art is indeed a theoretical trichomoty (if you pardon the ad hoc mutilation of the word). It is a highly saturated field where few are successful, resulting in a frenzied attempt at bolstering sales through the publicity and branding of the very successful. The art world also runs on subsidies and grants that allow admission costs to, one the whole, evaporate. This is integral to keeping art fluid, accessible and invigorating inspirational – a golden facet of arts much-debated orgy of purpose and function.

In the deluge is integrity – art is for connoisseurs and everyone, for tourists and the casual purveyor . It arguable whether it is a commodity, which leaves Hirst’s perfidy and proffering of merchandise questionable and unpalatable. Unless, of course, Hirst is parodying himself as he glibly presides as luminary of the tawdry commodity. If it wasn’t so exorbitantly expensive, it might just be plausible. 


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