The Art of Giving Back: on Damien Hirst, collector

The Art of Giving Back: on Damien Hirst, collector

I got myself a nice present from my lovely wife yesterday: Magnificent Obsessions: the Artist as Collector.

In the book, we get a glimpse of the collections of some famous artists. Andy Warhol was known for his obsessive colleting of, well, almost anything, and Edmund de Waal obviously likes his netsuke (check his book The Hare with Amber Eyes), Dr Lakra likes collages (his trademark) but Soll LeWitt is totally into Japanese prints and Hiroshi Sugimoto likes stuff related to anatomy. The most interesting collector, at least for me, is Damien Hirst.  

(Charming Baker)   In the book we see some skull and taxidermy birds, but he really has been collecting fellow artists such as Banksy and Charming Baker, but, of course, his collection includes lots of works by Sarah Lucas (Hirst probably has the biggest collection of his old friend's work), Angus Fairhurst, Gavin Turk and other former Young British Artists.  

(Sarah Lucas)   As always it started like this: "I bought art originally to support artists and also because I liked them. There was a lot of trading that went on." He also collects his own work (he famously bought back 12 of his works from Saatchi in 2003 for a reported £12m), although, "I never put my own work on the walls at home because I'd always want to change it. It's difficult. I'll start to pick holes in it. Whereas if it's by someone else, you can just really enjoy it." Now, Hirst is going to display his collection on a permanent basis, at the Newport Street Gallery. It was initially slated to open this spring, but the launch date has now been pushed back to October 8, just a week before the 13th edition of the Frieze London art fair.  

A rendering of Newport Street Gallery, mDamien Hirst's soon-to-be opened museum in London<br>Photo via: Newport Street Gallery

(A rendering of Newport Street Gallery, Damien Hirst's soon-to-be opened museum in London Photo via: Newport Street Gallery)   The inaugural exhibition which will be a solo show devoted to the British painter John Hoyland, an artists' artist, as talented as he is under-appreciated.  

John Hoyland, Scando 2.10.80 (1980)<br>Photo via: Newport Street Gallery

(John Hoyland, Scando 2.10.80 (1980). Photo via: Newport Street Gallery)   Hoyland's will be the first exhibition in a series of shows that will showcase the highlights of Hirst's ample art collection, which he began assembling in the late 1980s, and featuring pieces by modern and contemporary artists such as Francis Bacon, Banksy, Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, Sarah Lucas, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Haim Steinbach, and Gavin Turk, as well as historical objects including natural history specimens, taxidermy, and anatomical models. Artnet,com reports: "A return to curating might thus seem like a particularly sensible option for Hirst, whose credibility has come under scrutiny following his controversial yet hugely profitable 2008 Christie's London auction, his widely-panned painting shows at the Wallace Collection in 2009 and at White Cube in 2012 (painted by him alone, for a change), and a slew of media embarrassments, including Henry Moore's daughter accusing him of setting art back 100 years last winter. His personal life has also experienced a series of commotions throughout the last decade, starting with his sobering up in 2006, his split from the mother of his children and long-time partner Maia Norman, and public fall outs with mentors Charles Saatchi and Larry Gagosian.  



(Larry Gagosian and Damien Hirst, afterparty for the opening of Damien Hirst: The Elusive Truth, Lever House, NYC, March 11, 2005 Copyright Patrick McMullan Company)

Newport Street Gallery could mean a fresh start for the British artist. And he seems to be hugely motivated by it. According to the Guardian, he is overseeing every small detail of the project, even the food that will be served in the restaurant. Just don't expect to find the name of a trendy chef name there. “All chefs are cunts, like artists," Hirst told the daily. Now, that's a statement."  


(Damien Hirst with 'Stripped (Instinctual) by Michael Joo (left), and 'Can't beat the Feeling' by Banksy (right), both from his murderme collection. Getty images. Photo: Scott Barbour. Serpentine)

Hirst particularly likes his Banksy's, including the iconic naked Vietnamese girl fleeing a napalm attack whom Banksy depicts holding hands with Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald. Won't two of the world's most litigious corporations sue over that? "Hope not. I've always thought he was great. The streets are boring. So I think anyone like Banksy who makes it entertaining and treats people like people instead of consumers is brilliant. He's a surrealist who makes you think about the world in a completely different way." Here's some more on Hirst and Banksy, from "In 2006, Damien Hirst and Banksy seemed to be on opposite ends of the art world spectrum. Hirst was a brand, an art phenomenon worth roughly £100m pounds (a year later he debuted his “For the Love of God” diamond-encrusted skull, which allegedly sold for £50 million or $80 million). Banksy was a faceless graffiti artist who was well known because his identity was unknown. “I have no interest in ever coming out,” he was quoted saying in a New Yorker article at the time. “I figure there are enough self-opinionated assholes trying to get their ugly little faces in front of you as it is.” Hirst was arguably one of the art world’s most “self-opinionated assholes,” and Banksy denounced the world in which Hirst reigned as ”a rest home for the overprivileged, the pretentious, and the weak.



Despite this ostensible aversion to personal fame and publicity, Banksy agreed to be featured in Hirst’s 2006 show at the Serpentine Gallery in London, “In the darkest hour there may be light." Speaking to The Guardian about Banksy's work, Hirst praised the pseudonymous graffiti artist. “I’ve always thought he was great. The streets are boring...anyone like Banksy who makes it entertaining and treats people like people instead of consumers is brilliant.”
It was the beginning of a collaboration that has fueled rumors about Banksy’s identity and associations—particularly amongst those who speculate that "Banksy" is in fact a sort of performance art collective funded by art world mandarins. Bettina Prentice, founder and owner of Prentice Art Communications, thinks Hirst has an Oz-like role—the man behind the street art curtain—in Banksy’s work. The theory stems in part from their playful, if strange relationship. Two years after the exhibit, Banksy’s “Keep It Spotless” collaboration with Hirst sold for more than $1.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction, Banksy's highest reported sale. In his 2009 show at the Bristol Museum in England, Banksy showcased another original Hirst spot painting with a large rat stenciled over it.
banksy hirst collab

Check out the book, and go and see the Hirst collection!

Gepost op: 2015-07-05 in: kunst

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