International exhibition of Damien Hirst’s spot paintings to open at Gagosian, with non-millionaires being given chance to partake via host of Hirst merchandise at Other Criteria
Damien Hirst has teamed up with his longtime U.S. dealer Larry Gagosian to deliver a complete exhibition of his ‘Spot’ paintings across all 11 Gagosian galleries worldwide – from London to Hong Kong, Beverly Hills to New York, Paris to Rome.
Prices are to remain undisclosed, although it shouldn’t be too hard to estimate a ball park: previous prices for the larger works at auction have ranged from about £650,000 to £1.2 million. Luckily for those of us without that kind of cash, there is still an opportunity to get involved in the buying frenzy – Damien Hirst’s shop at Other Criteria, with a whole range of spot-related products on the brink of being released. Other Criteria works with artists to make limited editions and multiples, t-shirts, jewellery, photographs, posters, prints and books. Along with expected prints of Hirst’s spot paintings, there are also some less expected products to splash out on. Why not try a Damien Hirst Spot Clock for a mere £490? There’s a spot badge at 75p, a Spot Tea Towel for £14, Spot Cuff Links for £19, Spot T shirts for £24.95, Spot Silk Scarves for £89.95, and even skateboard decks for £480!
This international exhibition of Spot Painting will see 300 paintings on show from 1986 to today, with over 50% having been sourced from private collectors and museums, while the rest are on sale for undisclosed prices. This is a controversial exhibition, with many critics having dismissed the ‘Spot’ works as lightweight, trivial, or perhaps even mercenary. But Hirst hopes that the exhibition will reveal the true worth and complexity of the series, rehabilitating in the eyes of the world.
While, in isolation, they may ‘look sort of happy — like Skittles or kids’ sweets,’ Hirst explained, ‘when you see them together you get kind of lost in them. [and] There’s an underlying anxiousness’.
An exhibition of this scale reveals the kind of daredevilry that we have come to associate with Hirst – a man described by one critic as ‘a symptom of the hype, the hubris and the money that have swamped the art scene lately’. As Hirst put it, ‘I’m not afraid to take risks’: ‘I try things that on the surface shouldn’t work, and people resent that. I could have easily done the  auction at Sotheby’s with 12 works, but I did it with three catalogs and 200 works, and it was over-the-top and in-your-face and then it pays off and people hate that, in England especially.’ The auction in question saw Hirst make an incredible £111 in just two days, and led to accusations of sale manipulation – with some suggesting that the artists enlisted business associates to splash £40,000 million on the first day.
This super-exhibition of ‘Spot’ paintings will open what promises to be a big year for Hirst, ahead of his major survey at Tate Modern in April.
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