An article in the New York Times on February 22nd by Robin Pogrebin discussed Damien Hirst’s upcoming exhibitions in Venice opening April 9. Hirst who was born in 1965 is one of the group called Young British Artists and became very popular in the 1990’s. His work commanded very impressive prices at his peak. A diamond encrusted skull sold for $100 million dollars.
But at various times, he has flooded the art market with masses of artwork that diluted his prices. He had an exhibition that depressed his prices on the day that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy.
Some of his collectors feel he has turned against them by flooding the market with his works. In 2008 he went behind the back of his galleries, Larry Gagosian in New York and White Cube in London and offered masses of works through Sotheby’s. This end-around ended up depressing the market for his work and owners of his works were upset. He is reputed to be worth $350 million dollars, so he doesn’t have to worry about money. One of his problems is that he is so prolific that the art market is unsure how much is behind the curtain, so to speak. In 2012 he took over all 11 of Gagosian’s galleries to offer a retrospective of his spot paintings.
The Venice exhibitions will be at two locations owned by the French billionaire, Francois Pinault, who also owns Christie’s auction house. Mr. Pinault owns a number of Hirst artworks and there is speculation that he might be sponsoring the exhibitions to increase the value of his holdings. The art world will be watching to see how the reaction to Mr. Hirst’s will either revive or deflate his standing. It appears that controversy adds to the excitement in the art world.
This sculpture was installed in Doha, Qatar. The baby is 46-foot tall anatomicly correct boy and is placed in front of Sidra Medical and Research Center devoted to women’s and children’s health.