“Sell Your Damien Hirst While You Still Can”, Warns Curator

Art critic and curator Julian Spalding has struck out at Damien Hirst, warning collectors to sell sell sell as his work will soon be worthless

This criticism comes ahead of a major exhibition of Hirst’s work opening at Tate Modern in London next week. ‘The emperor has nothing on. When the penny drops that these are not art, it’s all going to collapse. Hirst should not be in the Tate,’ Spalding said. The former director of galleries in Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow added: ‘It’s often been proposed, seriously, that Damien Hirst is a greater artist than Michelangelo because he had the idea for a shark in a tank whereas Michelangelo didn’t have the idea for his David. … [But] What separates Michelangelo from Hirst is that Michelangelo was an artist and Hirst isn’t.’

But Spalding’s bile may have more to do with promoting his latest book, that any real problem with the artist superstar. The book is called ‘Con Art – Why You Ought to Sell Your Damien Hirst While You Can’ is published next month. According to Spalding ‘Con art’ is ‘short for contemporary conceptual art and for art that cons people’.

But Spalding isn’t the only one wanting to promote a new enterprise, with Hirst revealing his plans to open a major public art gallery in South London to display his vast collection of Modern and Contemporary art. “It’s my Saatchi gallery, basically,” Hirst told the Observer, describing the development project in Lambeth that will soon display the highlights of his personal collection of more than 2,000 artworks. “It’s about as big as the Whitechapel, six galleries, a café and a shop – and it’s a place to show my collection of contemporary art. It feels bad having it all in crates. It’s basically Bacon and beyond,” said the artist. He also remarked that five paintings by the late Francis Bacon would also comprise part of the display. “He didn’t make many and he’s not making any more”; the artist added.

Hirsts collection includes works by Banksy, Jeff Koons and others like fellow Goldsmiths graduate Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume,Matt Collishaw and Michael Landy. He also has work by Tracey Emin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Marc Quinn and Jenny Saville. Many of the works were traded with the other artists, for his own.

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London from 1986 to 1989 and is considered by many to be the leading figure of the group known as “Young British Artists”. The YBAs are characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit, independence and their ability to manipulate the media. Hirst dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. His early career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, however over the last few years Hirst has distanced himself from this association. Hirst’s work explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal. His work has been exhibited widely,in Britain, the USA, Australia, and Europe. Work is included in many public and private collections. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995.

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