Damien Hirst

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Turambar, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Let's try something else.

    I would assume that most of you know Damien Hirst. He's mostly known for sticking dead animals in formaldehyde and labeling the product as being art. Not only that, he manages to make quite a living out of it. In reality, he has some 5 to 10 concepts, of which he (and his workshop) creates copies or interpretations, depending on who you're listening to.

    So much so that he is the most expensive living artist. And, some people reason, for what exactly? Yes, sticking dead animals in formaldehyde, for one. As such, he's not quite uncontroversial. The world now seems to devide into two groups of people; those who are simply bedazzled by his work - and those who abhor him and his work.

    Soooo.... where do we stand on him?
     
  2. ScreenXSurfer

    ScreenXSurfer Better Than You

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    Eh, some of the more exotic animals are pretty cool to see like that. The shark one is pretty neat.

    I wouldn't consider him an artist. He doesn't create anything. He just steals what nature made and places them in cages.

    I'm not outraged by anything he does- they're dead. If they were alive and he pulled this, I would be calling for his head.
     
  3. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    I thought you "progressive" people in the West liked stuff like that.You know...weird art and eccentric weirdos.

    ;)
     
  4. ScreenXSurfer

    ScreenXSurfer Better Than You

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    That depends on whether or not you're have a useless art degree or not. This is on the other extreme of Greek performance art of rioting for their benefits checks, where everybody is an artist.

    ;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  5. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    That's not art that's demanding your rights.
    Personally when it comes to art I prefer realism.

    Yes sir,realism is a good form of art.Hanging dead animals on the wall is the kind of art Asylum patients do_Or even they don't!
     
  6. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    There's hardly anything more real than an animal in real life. So to speak.

    How's that for realism?
     
  7. Foinikas

    Foinikas Playing backgammon!

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    That's not "realism" art.That's sick art.Stupid art.
     
  8. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    My view is that there are a lot of people with a lot of money in the world - the problem is most governments tax you lots if you happen to have lots and lots of money and income. Thus one way to protect yourself is to put your investments into things - land - antiques - businesses - and of course artwork.

    This creates a market need for artwork that remains at a high price point both before and after purchase and might even increase in value once over time. This thus protects the investment that many influential people have made in the art and thus also in the industry that surrounds it (galleries, lecturers etc.........)


    Add to that the fact that "art" has no specific meaning or definition of its own (so it can be anything); but it also likes to cling to the unusual and the extreme in order to get its notice in the world. Add all that together and I think you get a long way to explaining why you have things such as the Tate Modern where a blob of bluetac on a wall or an empty room is the height of art - and where examples such as the above are allowed and defended.


    Thus you have the art as an industry which at least short term defends itself because of the money that powers it along. That I think explains why one person can put a bit of bluetack on a wall and charge £millions whilst another gets told to take his rubbish off the wall.


    As for the presentation of frozen animals, eh, we can take individual "crimes against animals" and get riled up - the problem is when taken at a larger contextual view he's small fry compared to many others. More visual yes because its presented up high in media, and maybe some take that to be the "message of his art" (though I find it an odd way to present it and suspect that whilst its an explanation some might cling to to defend their attraction to his displays, that its not the original intent of them); personally I think he is just the result of the art industry needing something controversial for the attention grabbing and something artificially hiked up in price to stand as investment opportunities.
     
  9. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Oh, I forgot I sort of parked this discussion :)

    No doubt, I think, there is an element of commercialism in the art Damien Hirst produces. I don't mind his art being expensive - apparently, people were willing to pay up. That's fine by me. True, Hirst used this in his own particular way. By having a production workshop (something very common in the case of classic painters). But also by referring to the price of this work in his art.

    Discarding the price and the commercialism, I have to confess that I find the concept of some his art quite brilliant - especially the formaldehyde pieces. Let me explain.

    (Note: where I say we, feel free to read I)

    Take for instance Away from the flock. For those who don't know it, here is a photo. It is a dead sheep in formaldehyde in a simple glass and wood tank. The sheep, of a Brittish blackhead breed, seems to be frozen in time, floating in zero gravity. It looks very serene and unreal and, unless you observe at close quarters, not dead at all. Although at first glance we know we are looking at a dead sheep in a tank of formaldehyde, further observastion gives me the feeling that we are looking at a three-dimensional study of a sheep, carved and sculpted entirely true to life.

    But it isn't. And we know this. Coming back to the realisation that we are indeed looking at a sheep, a dead sheep, the piece suddenly becomes a bit eery. A dead sheep.... it doesn't look very dead. But some random sheep has snuffed it to be displayed in front of us, grasped from its flock. At our pleasure, even. Which, I must add, is not very unusual, given the mutton chops we called dinner yesterday. Might Hirst be commenting on the commercial exploitation of animals in Western society?

    Suddenly, we are grasped by sympathy, empathy for this particular, nameless sheep. It's so serene and innocent in the safe enclosure that Hirst built. Of all the dead things we have ever seen, this one probably looks the most alive, especially given the time it has been dead. We, too, are mortals and, whatever the future brings, at some point in time, we will suffer the same fate as this one sheep. And, above all else, the fact that it does seem to have frozen in time and space, the fact that has preserved so well, it is almost as if we are looking at the death of a sheep. As if we share that most intimate and mysterious moment in life - death. For the modern artist Hirst is, he has created quite a traditional work, a memento mori.

    Now, I think we have to take a step back and appreciate how the prices have become what they have. Considering the preceeding, I think the major appeal in his work is the fact that he has been able to approach the enigma of Death in a way no one has been able to as of yet. Now, this would not have mattered the slightest if Hirst had tried this 100 or so years ago. Now, however, secularisation has gripped the world. I don't intend to make this debate into yet another religion thread, but I think it's important to take into account. People, now detached from the certainty of afterlife, try to find meaning life and, above else, death. They want, or so I feel, to absorb Death, embrace it, understand it, beat it, even, in a metaphorical sense. In a world of materialists, not religion, not cosmetic surgery, not science - but art, which comes closest to depicting the conundrum, the paradox of Death is valued highest. Ironically, the Fountain of Youth so to say, only accessible to the richest in the world, is filled with formaldehyde and Death.

    The sheep in formaldehyde, in short, becomes an idol, a fetish of that what is not God. The bible describes such an idol in the form of a golden bull calf. Hirst, seemingly aware of this, actually made a work of art, in which he painted a calf golden, placed an Egyptian sun disk above its head and incased it in a golden-framed tank of formaldehyde. The masses were given their golden bull. The bull sold at Hirsts famous auction he organised himself, costing $23m. Metaphorically, the new owner had to melt down all his gold to obtain it. The fetish, the idol of what Christiantiy dubs the false god. And, being the prophet he has become, Hirst can now also sell other pieces of work at rediculous prices. People want to become a part of the work he produces, whatever it is.

    For those who disagree with accepting dead animals as a art, consider this; the concept of a museum was loosely derived from the concept of the cabinet of curiosities. A famous, early example includes the Hermitage, founded by Peter the Great. This was a collection of natural rarities, such as unusually shaped, exotic or malformed animals. Strong alcohol solutions and, later formaldehyde jars were widely used to perserve the specimen. In that sense, we must accept that this art form is part of our artistic heritage, whether we like it or not.




    Sorry, long post.... tldr is fully acceptable :(
     
  10. ScreenXSurfer

    ScreenXSurfer Better Than You

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    I'm saddened by the lack of youtube embedding.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  11. Árëlin Milloway

    Árëlin Milloway Toast Tiger

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    As an art student, I hear Damien Hirst mentioned practically every day. I have yet to meet anyone related to the school who would claim that what he does is not art. Which I think is interesting, though of course, biased. (As we all wish to be able to support ourselves simply by means of out work once we graduate, the artist who earns the most in Britain is of course going to be a bit of an idol.)

    I visited the Royal Academy of Arts in London last month, where Hirst's "Let's Eat Outdoors Today" was on show.

    Personally, I've had the motion of art being "something that provokes some kind of emotion" drilled into me for years. Of all the pieces exhibited in the gallery, Hirst was definitely the most provocative piece. Thus, I would say definitely say it is art. Have a look at Tur's last comment, and I think you would agree that Damien Hirst does indeed provoke thought. Whether I would have spent money on it if I had the means, that's a different matter...

    I can never decided whether the YBAs really ought to be exhibited in traditional galleries though. It feels wrong to want to separate them simply due to style, yet they are most definitely more modern than what is accepted by concervative art critics and enthusiasts...