Regular readers will know of the special reserve of bile I harbour for one Damien Hirst: the businessman peddling ‘art’ in a beyond-cynical way that would make Warhol choke on or at the very least regurgitate a little his oft quoted adage “good business is the best art”. It’s most worrying that the innumerable people declaring that he’ll remain only a footnote in the history of British art are undermining their cause by banging on about it incessantly (yes, myself included, but someone has to protest at Tate slobbering all over him). Second place is Tracey Emin, and let’s not waste column inches here. But I must concede that Hirst has, with the opening of his Saatchi-style private gallery due in October this year to display his own art (can we ignore his stupid Murderme name for it please), got one redeeming feature up on his partner in crime against art.
This enterprise is far from the annoyingly cynical Pharmacy in Notting Hill established in 1998 in which waiters delivered food wearing clinical gowns designed by Prada and punters sat on pill shaped seats. Its tiresome juvenile aren’t-pills-cool-and-subversive attitude combined with his usual money-grabbing grin grated enormously. I last saw a snapshot of the wannabe artist’s own collection of good art on show at the Serpentine – interesting is the gulf between the quality of that which he collects and that which he produces – and was staggered by the cream of the best on show: Chuck Close, Warhol (ha!), Bacon, Koons, Richard Prince, Sarah Lucas, Banksy. At least the man has an idea of how it should be. So the public will be able to enjoy some absolutely wonderful pieces from the most important figures from the second half of the last century through to now, especially when a lot of privately owned art is damned hard to ever see.
Mercifully, entry will be free of charge. I’m perhaps willing to forgive the offence to all notions of frugality that will be the gift shop filled with Hirst’s own limited editions.
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