Thursday, November 29, 2007

Damien Hirst at Lever House

The photos here are from the new Hirst exhibit at Lever House on Park Avenue in Manhattan. This is the same building that has Hirst's giant bronze statue "The Virgin Mother" in its courtyard.

This $10 million exhibit piece, called “School: The Archaeology of Lost Desires, Comprehending Infinity, and the Search for Knowledge,” was called by the Times' Carol Vogel "a veritable Noah’s Ark of roadkill." It consists of "30 dead sheep, one dead shark, two sides of beef, 300 sausages, [and] a pair of doves," all in glass tanks and flanked by steel medicine cabinets stocked with pharmaceutical packaging.

"The sketch took 10 minutes, but it has taken two years to make this," Hirst told the New York Times. From the Times article, a description of the giant water-filled tank at the head of the mock classroom:
Hirst describes it as an homage to Francis Bacon's 1946 "Painting" at the Museum of Modern Art, which depicts cow carcasses suspended in a crucifix shape. Hirst said the installation - which cost $1 million to assemble - is in fact a nod to a host of modern artists. "We've got everybody in here," he said. There is Dan Flavin (the strips of fluorescent lighting); Warhol (the notion of repetition, as in the rows of dead sheep); Joseph Cornell (the boxes encasing the dead animals); Jannis Kounellis, who uses live birds in his work; and René Magritte, who painted an egg in a birdcage.
Damien Hirst is the Quentin Tarentino of the art world: A shameless provocateur and imitator whose best work is the shiniest stuff that most blatantly rips off his more accomplished (or at least more inventive) predecessors.

More than 100 years after the beginning of Modernism and well into (and maybe beyond) the next phase of Post-Modernism, we're still left wondering what art is for. It's not inspirational anymore, nor instructive or strictly decorative. What is the point? Hirst's art, as much as I may like some of it, begs the question, especially in the post-Duchamp, post-Warhol age.

Hirst's art is made for collectors. This installation was commissioned by Aby Rosen, a friend and collector of Hirst and his art. It's a sort of a Damien Hirst greatest hits medley. It's got sharks and sheep in formeldehyde tanks, it's got medicine cabinets, and it's got art historical references galore.



Blogger Christopher said...

Dude. I get more hit in the bits when I look at Bacon.

Francis, that is.

12:24 AM  

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