Friday, January 10, 2014

Damien Hirst and Domenico Beccafumi with thoughts from Robert Hughes


On yesterday's artdaily mailing a portrait, head of a bearded man made by 16th century Sienese master, Domenico Beccafumi  was placed next to a portrait of Mickey Mouse made by Damien Hirst. This juxtaposition forced a strange and somewhat bizarre comparison.

I wondered what the late art critic supremo Robert Hughes might have had to say. In a piece written in the quardian, September 2008, Hughes said this:

Hirst is basically a pirate, and his skill is shown by the way in which he has managed to bluff so many art-related people, from museum personnel such as Tate's Nicholas Serota to billionaires in the New York real-estate trade, into giving credence to his originality and the importance of his "ideas". This skill at manipulation is his real success as an artist. He has manoeuvred himself into the sweet spot where wannabe collectors, no matter how dumb (indeed, the dumber the better), feel somehow ignorable without a Hirst or two.
Actually, the presence of a Hirst in a collection is a sure sign of dullness of taste. What serious person could want those collages of dead butterflies, which are nothing more than replays of Victorian decor? What is there to those empty spin paintings, enlarged versions of the pseudo-art made in funfairs? Who can look for long at his silly sub-Bridget Riley spot paintings, or at the pointless imitations of drug bottles on pharmacy shelves? No wonder so many business big-shots go for Hirst: his work is both simple-minded and sensationalist, just the ticket for newbie collectors who are, to put it mildly, connoisseurship-challenged and resonance-free. 

Hughes never took any prisoners. Some notable quotes:

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.

The new job of art is to sit on the wall and get more expensive.

One gets tired of the role critics are supposed to have in this culture: it's like being the piano player in a whorehouse; you don't have any control over the action going on upstairs.

Hughes on Caravaggio: Popular in our time, unpopular in his. So runs the stereotype of rejected genius.

So much of art – not all of it thank god, but a lot of it – has just become a kind of cruddy game for the self-aggrandisement of the rich and the ignorant, it is a kind of bad but useful business.

You can see the artdaily mailing in its entirety HERE and also the guardian story HERE.

No comments: