As the Damien Hirst Exhibition at Tate Modern was in its final week I thought I’d better get round to booking some tickets for Friday Evening. I’ve got mixed feelings about Damien Hirst so I was looking forward to seeing this show and to maybe re-evaluate my opinion of his work but I felt much the same when I left as I did when I went in.
I think he’s made some truly remarkable work; the animals in formaldehyde like The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, or the Shark to most people, In and Out of Love, an installation involving butterflies, and A Thousand Years and are all works I particularly like.
But most of the rest of it just doesn’t do it for me, the spot and spin paintings are such a crass commercial enterprise with little aesthetic or conceptual value in my opinion, and the diamond encrusted skull, not on show at the exhibition, is just vulgar and silly and I’ve never really liked the Pharmacy work.
Some of the more recent works look like they’ve been made with Oligarchs and Sheiks in mind, just bling versions of earlier concepts.
Despite being thought of as a conceptual artist I don’t find much conceptual depth to his work, in fact I’m not sure how much of an artist he is at all and an awful lot of what he does is highly derivative of other artists work.
In truth his work is sort of a playful take on the kind of curiosities you might find in a Victorian museum, a kind of attempt at owning nature in some way.
I see his real skill in being a great entrepreneur with a fertile imagination who has made some great, but largely pretty average, artwork.
I would say go and see it none the less, but it’s finished now so you can’t.