Damien Hirst: To Love or to Loathe

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"The thing about 9/11 is that it's kind of like an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact. It was devised visually... You've got to hand it to them on some level because they've achieved something which nobody would have ever have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America. So on one level they kind of need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing." Needless to say, the preceding quote inflamed a damaged nation. Who would say such a thing? These words were uttered on the eve of the first 9/11 anniversary by the always controversial artist, Damien Hirst.

Although Damien Hirst was quick to follow these comments with an apology, this artistic approach to the horrors of 9/11 were well within the scope of this artist. Wherever Damien Hirst goes, controversy is quick to follow. From his death ridden installation art to allegations leading to an out of court settlement, Hirst operates under a shadow that seems impossible for him to dodge.

Many of the famous works of Damien Hirst are utterly macabre. That is why his spin and dot work is such a surprise. From dead, dissected, decomposing animals to bright colors swirling and appearing on a white background? The leap is a little disjointed. Then again, however, this is Damien Hirst we are talking about. The controversy surrounding the spin and dot paintings is not (as was the focus of his installation works) the subject matter. After all, there are no dead animals in these paintings. The controversy is in the fact that he simply didn’t paint the vast majority of his spin and spot series. Why? As the artist says in his own words, "I couldn't be fucking arsed doing it". Damien Hirst did five spot paintings. Two assistants created 300 under his name. Hirst sees himself as the originator of the idea, the creator of the concept, the one who thought it up. Therefore Hirst sees himself as the artist despite the fact that he painted very little of those works.

Well, in all fairness, it is believed that Michelangelo, along with a great many of the old masters, had assistants painting for them. Even the late modern day painter, Andy Warhol, had workers in his studio dubbed the “Factory”. Yet, this constantly shifting notion of what art is in the mind of this strange artist is beautiful, ugly, fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. Judge for yourself by viewing a selection Hirst’s spin and dot paintings at the Guy Hepner art gallery in Los Angeles (view in person or on their website).

Will the controversy surrounding him ever go away? Doubtful. Will we continue to buy and crave his works no matter how they are produced? Definitely. Why? Because love him or loathe him, he is the one and only (and yes, very talented even if only working from a conceptual level), Damien Hirst.

See works by Damien Hirst on the GuyHepner.com website and visit the inventory page to see more works from controversial , talented, contemporary artists. Be moved, be frustrated, be inspired, be in awe. Re-discover the power of art at the Guy Hepner art gallery.

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