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2.17.2010

Damien Hirst at Gagosian

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
The first time I saw one of Damien Hirst's paintings, 5 years ago, I was working as an intern in an auction house in Paris. I was immediately surprised and taken aback by his work. Year after year I learned to discover and understand this amazing artist. Beyond all the controversies he raised, he has revolutionized the role of the artist in the contemporary art world. Even if one can say that he modified the course of the diamond in creating his massive skull or that he took the role of art dealers in arranging its own sale at Sothebys, he undoubtedly has allowed the contemporary art artist to become a full-fledged member of the art market.

Gagosian gallery hosts a fantastic exhibition of his new paintings and sculptures: "The End of an Era". Indeed, it is the end of an era, the era of the Spin, Spot and Butterfly paintings which made him famous. Spin paintings were created by a centrifugal force on a spinning circular surface, Spot paintings represented randomly an arrangement of colors spot and Butterfly paintings symbolized the beauty and the fragility of life. The title of the exhibition also refers to the central sculpture in the exhibition which is a severed bull's head with golden horns, crowned with a solid gold disk, suspended in formaldehyde and encased in a golden vitrine. Death has always been one of his favorite themes and he is known for a series in which dead animals are preserved (sometimes dissected) in formaldehyde. "The bull's head with golden horns" is a very interesting subject because it refers to the biblical story of the Golden Calf which has been worshipped as an idol, a fake idol. The head is offered and exposed as a sacrifice. By using this symbol he demystifies the myth and by extension his own myth. The title of the sculpture may also refer to the end of an other era: the era of optimism and speculation before the recession...

The most impressive work that is shown is certainly the "Judgment Day". This work was made in 2009 and represents a thirty-foot long gold cabinet filled with close to 30,000 manufactured diamonds. Totally "bling-bling", this enormous piece of art is supposed to be exhibited in museums or somewhere very particular. As he said: "Something like this would be great in a museum or Jay-Z's house".
A series of new paintings is also shown and actually exposed together for the first time. This series represents photorealist paintings of famous diamonds as "The Golden Jubilee" (made in 2008) or "Agra" (made in 2006)...

To those who missed the opening and the reception at the BBR: go and see the show! Diamonds and contemporary art: what else?!

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