Did something happen in the art world recently? Or more specifically, did everything that appeared to have been happening in the art world over the last thirty five years suddenly just give itself away? British Non Shark-killer Damien Hirst (at least he himself didn’t do the killing) had a show of oil paintings at the Wallace Collection. It turns out they were teh suck:
The fact that he appeared to be attempting to align himself with the other great artists in that gallery, by using Old Master imagery such as the skull, that he employed a dark blue-dominated palette reminiscent of the early works of his hero Francis Bacon, while making reference to Picasso’s Blue Period in the title of the exhibition, merely compounded the offence. Hirst’s presumption in comparison with the technical inadequacy of the work was simply unforgiveable. For once, chutzpah wasn’t enough.
Tom Lubbock, writing in the Independent, felt the need to preface his particularly acerbic remarks by reiterating – in an almost apologetic manner – one of the great mantras of contemporary art, that “skills needn’t matter”. Yet perhaps the great lesson of today’s responses to Hirst’s paintings is that skills most definitely do, should and always will matter.
To me, we have an easy political comparison. The Republican party has been trying to convince Americans for at least a generation that government just flat does not work. From 2001 to 2009, they attempted to demonstrate this and convince us via indisputable evidence and example.
For the last 35 years or so, the art world has been trying, desperately some might say, to convince us that art does not matter.
So I’d love to think the mask is off. Did Hirst manage to do it, with paintings?