Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Damien Hirst's show - good fun rather than great art

I take it all back; I love the Damien Hirst show at Tate Modern.
Last Thursday I posted here I would probably agree with much of London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell's damning "shiny shit" assessment of the exhibition.
But having seen the show for myself at a private view for Tate members (thanks kids for the ideal birthday present) this evening, I must recant.
It's not great art but it is good fun. You can find statements about life and death but being a superficial sort of person I savoured the fairground in Hirst's work.
I had seen most of the pieces before. And as ever there are good reasons to dislike his assembly line money-fixated approach to Art.
But with this show I've come to accept that even though the hard graft is often done by assistants, the creative spark is Hirst's alone.
Sewell's complaint the artist has been re-working the same old themes for decades is substantiated by the Tate show.
But though the iconoclasm  has long lost its bite along with his pickled shark, Hirst's vision continues to demand respect.
Where Sewell is totally wrong is to demand the show be boycotted because of Hirst's use of live butterflies.
I, too, had expected to be appalled but that is not how the work struck me. I didn't find the butterflies degraded but rather their beauty celebrated in their short lives.

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