This is a little late, as I went to see Damien Hirst’s exhibition at the Tate Modern on the opening day, but it is still on (till 9 September) and I recommend it, even to the Hirst sceptics.
I was too young to remember when the artist people love to hate, Damien Hirst, first catapulted onto the scene in 1988 (just born, to be precise). But now, nearly a quarter of a century later, he is inescapable in the art world.
His large exhibition at the Tate Modern (4 April-9
September, 2012 - £14) is the first substantial survey of his work in Britain
and brings together key works from over twenty years - giving those who missed
it first time round a unique opportunity to see iconic works such as his Natural
History series. This
includes The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991, in which Hirst suspended a shark
in formaldehyde. This was one of the most popular items in the exhibition - as well as Mother and Child Divided (copy 2007, original 1993), in which a cow and calf are shown in halves, again in formaldehyde. The fascination was evident - with queue to see the ill-fated mammal’s inners.
|Damien Hirst with For Heaven's Sake 2008. Photo: The Guardian|
|Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991 Photo: my own)|
|Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991 Photo: my own|
|The queue on the opening day of the exhibition. Photo: my own|
And that is only the start, sidle past the bloody cows head surrounded by flies (A Thousand Years 1990) and you’re met with a giant, stinking ash tray (Crematorium 1996) and a room full of medical instruments (Still 1995). Yes it’s death, more death and money that attracts the masses. But I was struck by the amount of children enjoying the works. The seemingly gory installations have a beauty and interactive nature perfect for the young and old alike.
|A Thousand Years (detail) 1990|
The money and beauty aspect grows from the Pharmacy (1992) to the butterfly, spin and spot paintings until you’re met with full-blown bling of the diamond-filled cabinets (Isolation 2009-10). It’s hard to find Hirst’s death-obsession here. Are the sceptics right? Has this billionaire artist cynically exploited our collective greed and stupidity?
|Isolation (2009-2010) Photo: my own|
|Outside For Heaven's Sake 2008|