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HIRST, Damien/ ARTISTS 1900 onwards/ MAIN ART

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Born in Bristol, England, 1965

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Damien Hirst has defined and drawn attention to a generation of young British artists. From the controversy of Separated from the flock (a lamb preserved in a glass tank, which was vandalized when included in the exhibition that Hirst curated for the Serpentine Gallery in 1994, 'Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away'), to the political storm surrounding the arrival of 'Sensation' in Brooklyn, his work momentarily redefined international expectations of British art, before alienating the residual establishment art institutions, including colleges, universities, museums and galleries and artists themselves.

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Damien Hirst Food Packaging

Damien Hirst  
Damien Hirst - amazon.uk The Grove Book of Art Writing: Brilliant Words on Art from Pliny the Elder to Damien Hirst - amazon.de  

 
The trick was, British art had been in the doldrums for many years, influenced largely by American abstract expressionism, and prolonged in figuration and conceptualism by a few isolated aficionados such as Hockney and Hamilton, neither of whom in their different roles would rival the miraculous movements in post-war German art, exemplified by Kiefer and Beuys.

The establishment-friendly tag BritArt was a materialistic, nationalistic logo primed for City endorsement. The new age entrepreneurs, followed by the old age luvvies, who loved to drool in their success, decided that contemporary art was the one form they might even appropriate without a need for too much understanding, in order to find themselves a status. They bought objects at ludicrous prices, one artist after another, rounding up artists like Texel sheep, all for the sake of the sensation, of belonging, of owning art. (And they still do, in this economic downturn, while curiously observing the great distance between the rich and the poor, curious that the poor still respect the rich, in a cloth-cap-doffing manner, just as many of their Lawrentian predecessors did.)

As soon as real money was involved, quick as lightning, different breeds started bleating, and the sleepy, fusty art establishment, woke up to its success!

If Hirst does not get his hands dirty, he sometimes got his fingers burned. When Pharmacy, the Notting Hill restaurant, was launched in January 1998 amid great hype, its chef was Marco Pierre White, and Hirst - who had a stake in the venture - designed the interior. Bar stools were shaped liked paracetamol tablets, the walls lined with glass cabinets, filled with pill boxes and bottles.

Controversy soon followed. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society objected to the name of the restaurant, arguing that it would mislead the public. In July 1998, Pharmacy was floated on the stock exchange. Hirst and Matthew Freud, the public relations guru who also owned a share in the restaurant, swapped their part-ownership for shares in the Hartford Group, a company backed by property tycoons Nigel Wray and Nick Leslau. The stock market valued Pharmacy at around 7 million, making Hirst's stake worth almost 400,000.

Timothy Foster


Don't Be So...: Poetry by Paul Fryer and Damien Hirst - amazon.fr