Thursday, February 21, 2008

Damien Hirst

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
As I was writing the other night, Damien Hirst was on Charlie Rose, talking about the exhibit/auction Red. He and Bono were hanging out and, apparently after some serious drinking, they decided to do this big charity auction. They raised 400 something million for the United Nations Foundation to support HIV/AIDS relief programs in Africa. I can't say anything more about that than, Wow.

When he painted his first dot paintings, he went out and hired people to paint some more of them. Now he says that at the end of the day, he likes to have done as little as possible. Meaning he concepts, others produce. Man, if I had just stuck with my butterflies and carbon tetra chloride, (another hobby of my youth). I went to school for business. I just need to hire a few assistants. And if I knew some rock stars.

Charlie Rose made the observation that Hirst understands the economics of art better than anybody since Warhol. I, like nearly everyone, need to make a living. But this interview seems as much like an interview with a hedge fund manager as an artist. How much did you get for that? And that? And your net worth is.......?

It leaves me pretty cold. I expect more from Charlie Rose. Why else am I up this late? Oh yeah, blogging. I do think Hirst has some interesting things to say, and I find some of his work.......thought provoking. Whether it says anything really profound or not, I'm not so sure. He just swims in an ocean I don’t have much interest in. It seems that much of the really cutting edge art world is primarily concerned with the next big, shocking thing. Hirst says that he uses shock almost as a formal element.

For The Love of God. 8600 diamonds set into a plaster cast of a real skull. Those are the real teeth. Hmmmm. It sold for a bazillion dollars. Mr. Hirst was a substantial part of an investment group that bought the piece. He'll be paid in cash. ??? Think hedge fund. And the title? Apparently in response to his mother saying to him, For the love of God, what are you going to do next?

I don’t really care. I’m more concerned with what we as a people, as a group, as society are losing as we draw further away from the natural world. I don’t want to have a huge television so I can watch the planet from my couch. I want to see the planet. Closely. In all kinds of weather. I want the planet and the human race, and all the other inhabitants, to find equilibrium. To find a sustainable way to live. I don’t think we want to be displayed in formaldehyde anymore than anything else does. And where does the current concern over blood diamonds come in? Hirst seems to have an ongoing fascination/preoccupation with death. Should things be thought through in terms of impact, of not causing death? How many carbon offsets should he buy to offset the damage?

I want to paint my own things. One of the biggest reasons I headed down this path was I wanted to do something that was tangible. Make stuff. Not tell people what to do, what to make. Not Artist as Chief of Operations. I’m more the Head Cook and Bottle-washer type. And as I've painted, I've found an awareness in the tangible handling of the paint that I don't want to give up. The texture.

As far as rock stars go, I wonder if any of them like to fly fish. Or ride horses. Paddle?

Oh well.

Hirst did say, Art is a map of a persons life. I'm sure he's not the first to say it. I feel as if I've spent the passed years acquiring the skills I need to begin the map.

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