Regardless if you think he’s a modern genius, or nothing more than a promoter of a fictitious art economy and creator of Veblen goods — Damien Hirst appears to be the epitome of popular contemporary art. Hirst’s pickled animals and pricey skulls have fueled arguments and economies for close to 25 years now, and the Tate in Britain has just opened
the doors to an immense retrospective of his controversial career. In response to the opening, art critic and former curator Julian Spalding has publically criticised
the show, labeling Hirst’s work as ‘con art’.
Spalding told the UK’s Independent: "Damien Hirst isn't an artist. His works may draw huge crowds when they go on show in a five-month-long blockbuster retrospective at Tate Modern next week. But they have no artistic content and are worthless as works of art"
Spalding argues what many have done in the past; that Hirst’s work is of no more importance then the Emperors robes are visible. It is by no means a controversial comment, simply as it is a common argument; however Spalding further pushes a notion of pessimism by prophesying a cultural and economic epiphany of sorts, saying: "That's why you'd be well advised to sell your Hirsts, if you've been unfortunate enough to acquire any, before they become worthless. Because worthless they will be, when everyone realises that they've given nobody anything."
While Spalding suggests that the contemporary art bubble is soon to burst, it appears that he is overreacting in lieu of his new book 'Con Art – Why you ought to sell your Damien Hirsts while you can', which was released earlier this month. Arts journalist Georgina Adam told the BBC
that his comments were unfair, saying: "Hirst's earlier work did redefine the notion of art work" and "To condemn the whole of conceptual art is unfair."
The 5 month show is Hirst’s first major retrospective, and seemingly his biggest show since Freeze — the show he organised as a student that skyrocketed his career. Aimed to coincide with the 2012 London Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad
, The Tate are aiming for it to be the biggest art event of 2012, no holds barred. They’ve reinforced its floors to hold the formaldehyde filled tanks Hirst uses to pickle the animal kingdom with, as well as peppering the venue with millions of dollars worth of lighting.
The show features popular works The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
and For the Love of God