Damien Hirst shows 25 new hand-made (yes, by himself!) paintings at the Wallace Collection in London's West End. The Wallace Collection is a high-class museum of mainly 17th - 19th Century Renaissance art located in a charming town house in London. Hirst seems to challenge the old masters.
I was really excited to see this show: I loved his early installations; however I was more and more disappointed by his art-as-luxury-good-mass-production of the recent years.
Unfortunately, these new paintings disappointed me even more.
Damien Hirst successfully sold off in 2008 his entire stock in the famous Sotheby's auction 'Beautiful inside my Head Forever'. Ironically the auction took place at the same day when Lehman Investment Bank filed for bankruptcy. This day marked the end of the first art market boom in this Millennium.
He gave up many of his work series: The spin paintings, the dot paintings, the butterfly paintings and other substances. Then he went back to his art school roots: Oil painting. This is part of the problem: As a world class artist in your mid 40s you can't get away with painting at a graduate student level.
These paintings are also an attempt to separate his ultra-expensive works of art from the artistic mass production by his art factory. He moved that to 'Other Criteria', his own Damien Hirst luxury accessory boutique chain.
It is not surprising: If you hardly ever painted by yourself after finishing art school - you cannot expect to paint like a Renaissance master. To me his paintings look like a collage of - hand painted - Hirst signature icons (skulls, sharks, butterflies,...) and composition elements (cages, blue paintings, golden frames,...) of one of his idols: Francis Bacon.
Damien Hirst is an excellent installation artist and a (self-)marketing genius.
His works will continue to sell well for rather high prices.
Yet, I am quite sure: This will not be enough for him.
Through 24th January 2010