Gagosian gives signed print to visitors of all eleven Hirst exhibitions
Whether this was some kind of a private joke, I can’t say, and I know almost everything! It was reported last month that Larry Gagosian was giving away a free signed print by Damien Hirst to art enthusiasts, who visited all eleven locations of the recent ‘The Complete Spot Paintings’ retrospective, which closed on the 18 February. This is a bit of ‘after the fact’ information from the master of the three ring art gallery.
Hirst has been given a hard time throughout his career, whether its David Hockney lashing out at the army of assistants working for Hirst Inc., or one of the many critics lampooning his work as lightweight one-liners. So surely, you would be forgiven for thinking, this last major exhibition of Hirst’s Spot Paintings – the most put down series of all his works – can only serve to fan the flames of disgruntlement, highlighting the essential emptiness at the heart of his practice? But, incredibly, you would be wrong.
For one thing, the scale of this international exhibition alone was an impressive feat. Having teamed up with his long-term dealer Larry Gagosian, Hirst presented us with 11 simultaneous exhibitions worldwide, flooding the art capitals of the world with his spot paintings, from London to Hong Kong, Beverly Hills to New York, Paris to Rome. This amounted to over 300 paintings, with over 50% having been sourced from private collectors and museums (involving more than 150 different lenders from twenty countries), while the rest are on sale for undisclosed prices.
It was only as images began to circulate on Twitter of Damien Hirst flinging his cap in the air with glee at the New York opening that it became clear what a coup ‘The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011’ really was. This might as well have been international ‘Damien Hirst Day’; and, with his major retrospective at the Tate Modern fast approaching, 2012 is ‘The Year of Damien Hirst’. But it’s not only the sheer scale of the operation that denied even the most hardened critic the opportunity to live up to their name. Of course, the idea and process behind a spot paining is easy enough:
After Gagosian filled his 11 galleries worldwide with Hirst’s Spot Paintings, Jay Jopling at White Cube unveiled his own global designs, by mounting exhibitions of Gilbert and George, in three of his London Galleries, plus his brand new venue in Hong Kong and an associate gallery, Lehmann Maupin’s New York locations, opening April 26. When asked if he was going to offer a similar deal to Gagosian, by giving away a free G&G print to visitors of all six exhibitions, Jopling replied; You must be joking!