Damien Hirst is a Turner Prize winning artist. Despite his critical notoriety (much of it negative) he has managed to become one of the top selling artists in the world, with an estimated fortune of over £300m. He is an artist known for his installation art, paintings and sculpture. His subject matter often depicts images of death. In 2008, he made history by side stepping the gallery system by auctioning off his art work at Sotheby’s, where it sold for a record $198 million dollars.
Early in his career, he began collecting works of art by modern masters. His logic was that he wanted to “get into the heads” of collectors, who buy his works, and understand what made them tick.
“I had already earned a little money at the moment, but many of my friends-artists remained penniless and were constantly borrowing,” Damien Hirst says. “I was reluctant to lend money to friends: I was not sure that they would manage to pay me back, and I was afraid that it will affect our relations. One day it occurred to me that it iswas possible to simply buy their works – I could afford it. So, I started buying works of art from my friends.”
Hirst has now amassed an important and valuable art collection, which is currently on show in Russia. It includes work by Picasso, Bacon, Warhol, Prince and Koons. The show juxtaposes his own work alongside that of the masters and his contemporaries. Curated by Elena Geuna and originally exhibited at the Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin, ‘Freedom not Genius’ features over fifty artists and spans five centuries.
Other artists in the Hirst collection include:Frank Auerbach, David Bailey, Banksy, John Bellany, Nick Bibby, Ashley Bickerton, Peter Blake, Don Brown, Mat Collishaw, John Currin, Tracey Emin, Faile (Patrick McNeil, Patrick Miller), Angus Fairhurst, Abigail Fallis, Paul Fryer, Alberto Giacometti, Steven Gregory, Richard Hamilton, Marcus Harvey, John Hoyland, Rachel Howard, Gary Hume, Paul Insect, John Isaacs, Michael Joo, Jonathan Kingdon, Jeff Koons, Jim Lambie, Sean Landers, Hyungkoo Lee, Sherrie Levine, Colin Lowe, Sarah Lucas, Rodrigo Moynihan, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Gabriel Orozco, Walter Potter, Kurt Schwitters, Haim Steinbach, Keith Tyson, Fred Tomaselli, Rachel Whiteread, Olly & Suzi (Olly Williams and Suzi Winstanley), Cerith Wyn Evans.
Photo: Colin Lowe, ‘You Will Never Forget Me’ (2007). Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Colin Lowe, 2013
‘Freedom not Genius’ will be on display at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow from November 30th. until 2 February 2014