Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nurture Yourself - Seeing Spots with Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986 - 2011 as seen at Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street, New York. 

Last week I went to the opening of the Damien Hirst show at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles and was able to get my fill of his beautiful Spot paintings.  In fact, in honor of his upcoming retrospective at the Tate London (opens April 4, 2012), all 11 Gagosian locations around the world (8 cities, 3 continents) opened on January 12th with exhibits made up entirely of works from his Spot series.

Acid Ethyl Ester, 2010-11, by Damien Hirst, currently on display at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills. 
Over 300 works from his Spot series are currently on exhibit, ranging in size from tiny to immense, a single dot, to more than 25,000.  In a recent interview, Hirst said these paintings "look sort of happy - like Skittles or kids' sweets. But when you see them together you get kind of lost in them. There's an underlying anxiousness." For me, their beauty lies in their simplistic format and wildly vibrant colors. No spots touch and no color is ever repeated on a single canvas. Stand in front of one for more than a few seconds and it's easy to get caught up in it in an easy, weightless sort of way.
The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991, by Damien Hirst, has been called "the world's most over-rated marine organism."  Hirst was sent to an anatomy museum as an art student to study and draw corpses. It was during this time he was introduced to the use of formaldehyde for preservation. 

If his name doesn't ring a bell, you may know Hirst, 46,  from one of his first controversial and most famous pieces - a tiger shark he suspended in formaldehyde (which was later purchased by hedgefund manager Steve Cohen for $8 million dollars).  Love it or hate it, this piece still comes up regularly in art journals and contemporary art conversation.  Hailing from Bristol in the U.K, he studied at Goldsmiths College and has emerged as one of the most important and controversial artists of the contemporary art movement of the 1990's.  In 1995, he was the recipient of Britain's Turner Prize, a contemporary art award that is given each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition in the 12 months proceeding. 

Beautiful Bleeding Wound Over the Materialism of Money Painting, 2005 by Damien Hirst. 
In 2008, he made headlines by bypassing a gallery to facilitate the sale of his artwork and sold his work directly through Sotheby's London - a sale that made him over $200 million dollars.  Click here to read Hirst's recent interview with the New York Observer in which he talks about his inspiration, what a "spot" can mean and reveals he is currently working on a new Spot painting with two million dots!!!

Away From the Flock, by Damien Hirst, collection of Eli Broad. 

Confitebor tibi, by Damien Hirst. 

My favorite works by Hirst are from his Butterfly series and they call to mind many of the colorful stained glass windows I saw on a recent trip to France.  Made entirely of real butterflies, their glorious wings glisten as the observer walks from one side of the painting to the other.  I've seen a number of these works, most recently at LACMA when Eli Broad's collection was on display, and despite having a morbid dimension to them (dead insects aren't the happiest of choices), they are almost as beautiful in death as they are in life. What do you think?  I'll always dream of a Hirst painting greeting me when I get home from work, but for now, I'll settle for a few fun pieces, all with a little of Hirst's  je ne sais quoi.

Multi-dots Wallpaper, $6 per square foot, 

Clockwise from top left: Gourmet Getaway Lunch Tote, $24.95,; Deco dot skirt, $119,; Dots Multi-Garland, $25,; Herded Pattern Dot Loafers, $185,;  Multi-dot Lacey Wallet, $93, Kate

Belina dress, $375,


Stylosophism said...

I love your blog!
So nice and oustandig outfit and pictures.

California Chic said...

Thank you so much for visiting and for your sweet words! P.S. - Just visited your blog too and I LOVE your Fendi oxford shoes. Beautiful photos.

Theresa / InspirationCOOP said...

What a great post and review of Hirst's artwork. I was not familiar with his work, but have been hearing a lot about this exhibit. Good on you for making time to go and then sharing it with us. I learned a lot from your post. If I can walk away from a post having learned something new, it's much appreciated. Thank you.

California Chic said...

T - it was the first time I've been to a gallery opening in over 2 years, and it was so much fun! So glad you enjoyed the post!

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