Posts Tagged ‘Hirst’

Where everyone gets a bargin

Pseudo Damien Hirst at The Warehouse

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More from the randomiser

I have very little to say about art right now. However when clearing out old baby clothes I found 2 items that resembled Hirst dot paintings. You’d think clothing would lend its self more to random polka dots rather than rows al la Hirst – but there you go. I would have taken a photo but they are so faded that only the pink dots really stand out now.

Banksy takes on Hirst

I am feeling a bit over-whelmed at all the stuff I need to get rid of and I made the observation to a friend that I seem to imbue inanimate objects with emotional qualities. He wryly suggested that, that is what art is about. Ok – I concede that point, but you have draw the line somewhere at what particular objects you become emotionally attached to.

How can you resist a book that begins with this quote from Katherine Mansfield? “Dear Princess Bibesco, I am afraid you must stop writing these little love letters to my husband while he and I live together. It is one of the things that is not done in our world“. Having once had cause to make a similar comment about text messages, I think I know where she was coming from on that one. The book is of course “Uncommon Arrangements” and very good reading.

Finally I’ve been discussing via the comments the issue of blogger psuedonyms with John Hurrell. Having this kind of debate via comments is always tricky and I never seem to be able to convey my meaning very well. I am just hoping some more bloggers become involved. Good to see the comments from others already there.

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I’ve had a lot of questions answered in the last few days. So far, a highly entertaining , informative and readable take on the contemporary art market in The $12 Million Stuffed Shark has given me a good background to the Damien Hirst Heart and Dagger  fuss here, while I felt a little silly in the realisation that my personal goddess Nigella Lawson married THAT Saatchi (but oddly has her own house to relax and to hideout in). It also makes sense of the ridiculous prices paid for some works – equating the highest prices to just a few days salary for some of the buyers out there. Still the amounts discussed seem a little obscene (more on that in another post).

Also the whole Wellington public art issue and the corporate art bonus scheme was fully explained in “Wellington: A City for Sculpture” definitely worth a read and also makes some more sense of the proliferation of art works on the city streets. However I believe someone in planning needs to have this repeated to them “The aim should be to ensure that sculpture does not become a gratuitous and irrelevant embellishment to urban sites“. The book also reminded me of a time when my office on the Terrace looked out through Philip Trusttum’s “Northern Lights”

Further to my last post on guerilla art, the Wellington Sculpture book also had a section by Christina Barton on less sanctioned public art, particularly “Interventions City Reclamation Project” and Barry Thomas’ “Vacant Lot of Cabbages” (a brilliant piece IMHO). But also the official, “The Concrete Deal” in the James Smith Carpark, which I remember well, beautiful in its transient format . 

CK Stead’s Kin of Place certainly cuts to the chase and has inspired more of my writing on truths and untruths and “the lies that bind”. I love how many photos of Mr Stead are marvelously grumpy looking, but I have a soft spot for his writing due to early discovery of his poetry – “Scoria” encapsulating my Auckland experience at that time. His novel “All Visitors Ashore” also introduced me to a whole new NZ literary world.

Finally, over at Bookman Beattie he talks of Peter Simpson’s lecture on Colin McCahon, The Titirangi Years. “At the end Linda Tyler proved as good a questionner as she was in intoducing the speaker by asking (among other things) why McCahon the commuter never painted Auckland city or any part of it, or (and I thought this the question of the week) why did he never paint Rangitoto?”

My thoughts on this is maybe Rangitoto was too obvious, or too symmetrical (which is what I find irrittating about it). However my own landscape is dominated by an island and in talking to a local artist recently they said it was very hard to resist.

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Grumpy old woman

Warning – I am not having a good day…or week really. It didn’t get off to a good start today when I made a total fool of myself commenting on a widely-read blog. I am not linking – it was stupid and I should know better. Got me thinking about information overload though and also how much of the ‘conversation’ I have is web based, in fact far too much. Also reminded me of the pitfalls of having several identities and OpenIDs on the web.  I also almost posted something here from my alternative blog/journal because a mix up, and the details of my battles with my oven, my latest pumpkin soup recipe aren’t exactly ‘arty’. Although maybe my obsession with collecting 1960s pyrex could sneak through under ‘design’ though. Someoneiknow thinks I am Nigella Lawson in reverse which I am taking as a compliment even though it probably wasn’t.

So the art in all of this?  Some days it seems so futile. There is a lot about the art world that rankles me, mainly the monetary aspects and I find myself questioning the millions that some works go for at auction when they are so ephemeral. I keep thinking how much better the money could be spent and the ethics/priorities of people with that kind of money. On that level art is superficial and the politics of globalisation, poverty and sustainability seem overwhelming. On the other hand I take a lot of comfort from looking at and living with art. And this seems an incredibly white, middle classed and minority-world thing – but I guess that’s what I am – almost middle-aged even!

There are few drops in the ocean like this which make everyone feel better don’t they. “Rock star and humanitarian activist Bono and British artist Damien Hirst raised $42.5 million for HIV/AIDS relief in Africa at an unprecedented art auction Thursday in New York. Hirst’s piece entitled “Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way,” which uses fake pills to represent life-saving drugs for people in Africa, sold for $7.15 million.”

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way –
Damien Hirst

I did read this today in my internet wanderings which was a lighter moment.
I am often asked ‘what exactly is art?’ I usually reply, ‘Well, that’s a good question, but i’m afraid you’re too stupid to understand the answerTo the average person, art is something they see on the lid of a box of mixed biscuits. To them, shackled in the yawning deserts of ignorance, a picture of a steam train and a jumping dog is the pinnacle of artistic achievement. To those of us who do not buy our rugs from Ikea, however, art is much more, in the same way that Mozart’s concertos are much more than the tinny rasp of a tramp sucking on a rusty harmonica.”

Mt Egmont Biscuit Tin

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So an article was sent to me yesterday about the death of Angus Fairhurst. I wasn’t sure whether to write about it, as this is art and my life and he wasn’t really on my radar – the gorilla guy right? Well I read some more and I wonder why his work, while highly regarded, he had not reached the level of fame and fortune that other ‘Young British Artists’ achieved? Maybe over-shadowed by the extravagance of Hirst for example – an ‘art rock star’? I liked this photo I found by Maia Norman, from the  In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida exhibition at the Tate in 2004 (what a great name for a show!).

Angus Fairhurst Gorilla sculpture situated on Damien Hirst’s farm in Devon

Which also got me wondering about Hirst’s farm – well there are cows which is something. So does the Gibbs farm have livestock? Do the artworks ‘scare the horses’?

Fairhurst is described as intense, self-deprecating, perceptive but also witty and engaging. From a brief scan his work seems ‘weightier’ than his contemporaries. Really I don’t know…these things are tragic …whatever the reason.

So, are people like Hirst and Koons the rock/movie stars of the art world? Well maybe some clues about this elevation of status in the art world can be found in Guest of Cindy Sherman screening around the country just now. Sounds worth seeing (although Wellingtonians have missed out, as it is showing as I am writing this). There have been suggestions of a similar project in NZ to that of Paul H-O. It would be short – but funny. Although I have only dipped my toe into shallow puddle that is the art scene here, I’ve already heard some recent stories of excess.

Of course my mind wanders incessantly (you get that as you are scrubbing s*%t off nappies) and if artists are rock stars, what about rock star artists? For your amusement I found this review of celebrity artists which gives a grade – funny in itself. Personally I might have given Bowie more than a B+ (didn’t he go to art school by the way?) but I was impressed by Marilyn Manson’s abilities with water colours (I’m not kidding). And it might have been nice to see more works other than paintings. David Byrne’s being the exception of course – and who I believe is Cindy Sherman’s current partner.

Tio Guillermo, (1998)

Music and art are often intertwined I guess.  I just watched the Clairmont “Profiles” video again yesterday and there were the images of a (painted) speaker pumping away and records playing, Hendrix etc. And at the recent Hammond exhibition wasn’t there a ‘soundtrack’ you could listen to while viewing the paintings? So what is the ‘soundtrack’ to contemporary art?

And a chocie fish to whoever can work out what the title of this entry has to do with the content – apart from the obvious.

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Art Shark

I finally got around to listening to Kim Hill’s interview with Don Thompson about his book “$12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses”. The title comes from the Damien Hirst’s artwork The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living which is/was essentially a stuffed shark in a tank of formaldehyde.


Its interesting because of its conceptual nature and also because of its mythology. The shark was poorly preserved and started rotting and then apparently the Saatchi gallery skinned it and put it over a fibreglass mould which changed the work. Even curiouser is that when it was sold to Steve Cohen in 2004, Hirst replaced the shark with a whole new one which was about a foot shorter, and supposedly better preserved. Cohen said he was buying (for the aforementioned $12 million) the concept not the art. I have Thompson’s book on order so I am really looking forward to reading about the workings of art economics but this does raise a whole lot of questions about what is art and for me if collectors/galleries are actually buying simply the concept? An entry on Overthenet a while back, got me thinking about this too. I can see why public galleries would have difficulty buying (and storing) a concept. I struggle with conceptual art myself and for example, while I like Inanga by Finn Ferrier (oh look more fish art…) , how does someone buy or “own” that? At least a big rotting shark is tangible. I have to admit if I had a few billion lying about (which would make $12 million seem like smaller change) I don’t think I’d be buying a Hirst but you never know. He had this to say:

It’s a big dilemma. Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.”

There is an thought-provoking (and funny) commentary here too.

too reminiscent of Monty Python’s “Dead Parrot” sketch…Conjuring images of John Cleese indignantly reeling off a stream of euphemistic invective: ‘this shark has expired, passed away, snuffed it, kicked the bucket, gone the way of all flesh, shuffled off this mortal coil’

We have our own shark art example here in NZ too in Blanket Shark by Ricky Swallow (snapped up for the bargin price of $38,000 in 2007).


From the Art + Object Catalogue: “Blanket Shark, sculpted in 1996 is a work that seemingly effortlessly brings together the art historical and the personal that characterizes Swallow’s stunning work. It makes a nod both to Damien Hirst’s iconic 1991 tiger shark pickled in a glass tank of formaldehyde, which ushered in the uber-cool of the previous generation; and the carpet sharks – such as the spotted wobbegong – reeled in by the artist’s father.”

Personally I’d much rather have Blanket Shark. I have this weird mental image of a school of little toy sized ones though. What is the word for baby shark?

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