Damien Hirst’s new show is using skulls of famous French artistic figures who have been disinterred and sent to the Pantheon, the mausoleum of France’s most honored citizens.That is the rumor. He is confronting the existential crisis in Art by through the cranium cavity of existential writer Albert Camus, whose ”austere search for moral order” in the Stranger won the Nobel Prize.Hirst’s latest exhibit, is titled No Love Lost, Blue Paintings. The work focuses on depictions of human skulls, with some paintings also peppered with ashtrays and lemons, set against dark blue and black backgrounds. At the opening of his White Cube Show, Hirst said that, ”the paintings are about my mortality, whereas all the other stuff is about my immortality”.However, as Hirst enters his ”blue period”, hubris, ego, and self-delusion do not appear on the mortality short list.
”Speaking at the gallery, Hirst also told how in the past he has bought skulls over the internet for his work for about ’500 quid to a grand’.Asked how he would feel about donating his own skull for art, Hirst said: ‘I quite like that idea … I wouldn’t mind my skull being an ashtray or summat.’He said he was not spooked by such objects, adding: ‘You wouldn’t want a dead body in your house but a skull’s somehow safe, isn’t it?’ ”( Daily Mail )
In 2007, completed his ”For The Love of God” , a diamond encrusted skull . Hirst called it a celebration against death. The object was purchased by an investment bank. The original is thought to be that of a 35-year-old man who lived in Europe during the 18th century. The teeth have been taken from the original, polished, and then reset in the cast.The skull is a platinum replica of a human skull bought by Hirst two years ago in a London taxidermy shop. The death is seen as a celebration of life. The more death and more celebration. Its an aesthetic of death.Call it death-lite. Macabre or not, Hirst’s obsession with skulls,mumification, are to the extent of being himself a ”brand” primed for mass market licencing; A Disneyfication of the genre, but nonetheless troubling, in the sense that death must somehow be a central theme, and Hirst is just an affable public face for a deeper and more persistent rut of belief. Stockhausen on the World Trade Center 911 disaster:
”Asked at a press conference on Monday for his view of the events, Stockhausen answered that the attacks were “the greatest work of art imaginable for the whole cosmos.” According to a tape transcript from public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk, he went on: “Minds achieving something in an act that we couldn’t even dream of in music, people rehearsing like mad for 10 years, preparing fanatically for a concert, and then dying, just imagine what happened there. You have people who are that focused on a performance and then 5,000 people are dispatched to the afterlife, in a single moment. I couldn’t do that. By comparison, we composers are nothing. Artists, too, sometimes try to go beyond the limits of what is feasible and conceivable, so that we wake up, so that we open ourselves to another world.”Asked by a journalist whether he equated art and crime, Stockhausen replied: “It’s a crime because those involved didn’t consent. They didn’t come to the ‘concert.’ That’s obvious. And no one announced that they risked losing their lives. What happened in spiritual terms, the leap out of security, out of what is usually taken for granted, out of life, that sometimes happens to a small extent in art, too, otherwise art is nothing.” ( Julia Spinola ).
Hirst, on a lesser, more commercial and pop friendly basis, is also exemplifying what William Osborne characterized in a study of composer Stockhausen personifying the cycles of revelation, destruction, remorse and rebirth that characterize patriarchal transcendental idealism. This tends to get lost in the plastic soft-sell ”phenomenon” of Hirst, his mediatization and the sums of money associated with his auctions of work.He is a tabloid Superstar next to Miss Cheesy Sunshine and the dog racing results.
Hirst produces art that is reactionary and deeply conservative, authoritarian and heavy in a Nietzschean sense of Hirst’s own will to power and the death leitmotif as metaphor for eternal recurrence.The psychological presupposition is based on Nietzsche’s assertion that humans are always attempting to inflict their wills upon others. Every action toward another individual stems from a deep-down desire to bring that person under one’s power in one way or another. Whether a person is giving gifts, claiming to be in love with someone, giving someone praise, or physically harming someone, the psychological motive is the same: to exert one’s will over others. Certainly fits the description of Hirst, especially in light of Nietzsche’s presupposition of all human beings are ultimately and exclusively egoistic by nature.
Therefore, according to Nietzsche, there are no truly altruistic actions. The will to power is not, however, limited to the psychology of human beings.Growth, self-preservation, domination, and upward mobility are some of the basic elements of this will, which everything in the world exhibits, according to him.Therefore, people like Hirst or Stockhausen in the analysis of Nietzsche, the aspirationals to greatness, are according to Nietzsche, criminals in some respect, in that they are individuals who are courageous enough to act in a way that goes against the conformity of the herd. The criminal is thus someone to be valued by a society, as Nietzsche would have it, instead of looked upon with moral derision. The criminal points out something about society that is in need of change, helping to jolt the rest us out of our complacency. The concept of “punishment” for criminals then, simply amounts to the “suppression of a revolt,” in that it is nothing more than an attempt to maintain the mediocre status quo of the herd by imprisoning those who deviate from it.
However, it could be argued, asserted, that Hirst is the personification of the herd mentality and of the state and its levelling process; the level playing field.He is everyman’s artist. A man with little talent, at any level, technical, conceptual, emotionally frozen in gelatin and formaldehyde like his animal wor
He, in a sense represents, as an ambassador of the state’s will to power, violence and conquest. There is nothing inherently rebellious, provoking or revolting in his work. Its as quaint as an English cottage. The works are stagnant, with little sense of movement and fluidity. His art is a ”tweet”; object art of the fetish variety.
”Again we see an artist-prophet’s transcendentalist view that art must be a revelation, a process of spiritual death, remorse and rebirth, or it is valueless. It is interesting in history how often artist-prophets have confused human life itself with the material of their “creations.” I think this form of transcendental idealism that objectifies human life has played a large, but unacknowledged, role in the development of western art music. Perhaps it is most noticeable in the way large numbers of musicians are instrumentalized under the absolute authority of the “inspired” patriarchal conductor in symphony orchestras. …The human, in effect, becomes a fantasy of the conductor’s own mind. This might be seen as one manifestation of patriarchy in music.” ( William Osborne )
Hirst, is an ambassador of the established order of art. Museums, critics, art supplies providers; the entire paraphenalia of production and consumption of visual art as part of the music/theatre/art industrial complex that needs something to hawk ; Hirst is a psuedo-innovator at best trying to hard to be original when the talent is obviously not present.A Britney Spears or Madonna of art. A world of monetized ”precious value” that will be ultimately regarded as rubbish and expensive dross. John Healy’s ”color music” and Alexander Calder’s moving sculptures have long bypassed the ”innovation” claimed by Hirst.
We are far from poet Stanley Brouwn’s vision: ….then they will live in a world of only color, light, space, time, sounds, and movement/then color light space time/sounds and movement will be free/no music/no theatre/no art/no/There will be sound,color,light,space,time movement.
One thing Hirst, does master well, is the art of the hustle. Perhaps Hirst should go beyond casual flirting flirting with the iconography of death. This, tease of the death aesthetic. Hirst should consider a ”happening” in the tradition of Yves Klein, the 1960′s archpriest of Paris ”happenings”.That is, plan a supreme happening in which Hirst is to be run over by a steam roller as Klein had staged. Or, as a metaphor for his own death, Hirst could follow the example of John Baldessari’s ”Cremation Piece”, in which the artist smashed his paintings and then torched them in a crematorium, buried the ashes in a museum wall, and had a public notary attest to the realization of the concept.
”Bacon’s pin-striped businessmen from the 1950s appear to provide Hirst’s model. Instead of anxious executives, though, Hirst gives us the skull without the skin: skull after skull floating in blue gloom, along with glass ashtrays, cigarettes and lighters and glasses of water – half-full or half-empty, like life itself. It’s the old mortality shtick. There’s a shark’s jaw, open like a man-trap, an iguana that looks more dead than alive, and the odd stag beetle….This is painting as method acting. He just keeps at it. Hirst’s paintings lack the kind of theatricality and grandeur that made Bacon succeed. At its worst, Hirst’s drawing just looks amateurish and adolescent. His brushwork lacks that oomph and panache that makes you believe in the painter’s lies. He can’t yet carry it off.’, ( Adrian Searle, Guardian )