Monday, February 1, 2010

Damien Hirst is the Devil--Not

On a frigid Saturday night, Gagosian's Madison Avenue gallery hosted a greatest hits version of the Brit marketing genius's oeuvre. Coatless hatless creatures stood in line to get autographs, while a few strays actually went downstairs to look at some of the celeb-free art (although John McEnroe dutifully strolled through before departing).

Right: detail of "Judgment Day", gold-plated case with 30,000 manufactured diamonds.

Left: Damien Hirst [with fabulous rings] signing autographs:" Who should I say it's for, Dahling?"

Spotted in the madding crowd were: the naughty photographer Terry Richardson, Mr.Pineapple Express James Franco, Johnny Mac, Mick Jagger, Takashi Murakami, Jeffrey Deitch, and GoGo himself. Power art-biz/show-biz huddles were everywhere, with Mick talking to Mac, Mac talking to GoGo and Deitch, and Mick happily posing for pix with Hirst.

Right: Mick Jagger hugging Damien Hirst.

Left: Gagosian artist Takashi Murakami.

It's too easy to have something snarky to say about aptly-named Damien Hirst. Although he hasn't yet been featured in The Simpsons, Hirst has nonetheless become ubiquitous in mass culture. And while his show had as grandiose a premise and title as ever-- "The End of an Era"-- the sad collection of old and new works showed a consistent path of diminishing returns.

Right: Damien Hirst's cow sticking its tongue out at the oblivious crowd.

In the center of the main room was a vitrine eponymously titled "The End of an Era", with a cow head recycled from an earlier sculpture entitled "The Golden Half". While claiming to acknowledging his own conceptual dead end, Hirst was still trying to market a career arc that started with a bang [Death, God, Big Ideas] and has since become an end game whose outcome is now only measured in dollars. And despite the brouhaha at the opening, and the range of works from 2006-2009, there was quite a large number of unsold works.

Left: Gem paintings in gold frames, behind glass, reflecting the packed room full of gem-wearers.

Aside from his trademark paintings of pills, butterflies, and spots, Hirst continued his obsessions with wealth with his Vegas-y arrays of diamonds and zirconias in gold cases. Paintings of famous diamonds on black backgrounds with gold frames were dead on arrival. But all eyes were on the golden glitz, as the Golden Calf was old hat. Of course my eyes were on the hoofs of the humans.

Right: Equestrian chique.

Below: "You Cannot be Serious!!" John McEnroe to Larry Gagosian, with Mick.

Below Right: Endless work for Mr.Hirst.

Below left: Detail of butterflies encased in paint.

"Damien Hirst: End of an Era" at Gagosian Gallery through March 6.