Sunday, October 12, 2008

The "bejewelled trinkets" of Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is getting some royal treatment. However, it is not in the way that he would like. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Queen’s composer, has attacked the “dumbing down” and commercialization of the arts due to the success of Damien Hirst. Sir Peter lashed out at bankers, educationalists, politicians and religion as the fuel for the “dumbing down” problem. During a speech he used Damien Hirst’s record breaking auction at Sotheby’s as an example.

In a speech to the conference of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, Sir Peter said: “We can all learn from a recent auction of art as an instantly recognisable iconic commodity, where it has become part of the entertainment industry, crossed with investment banking. The artist had the wit to sell a golden calf and other bejewelled trinkets, but all creative artists, in whatever branch of the arts they work, must ponder the implications of so much money scrambling after manufactured artefacts without content – with just a brand tag supposed to guarantee market value.”

Sir Peter went on to say: “It reminds me of the Liberace museum in Las Vegas, where the great man’s tatty stage costumes are exhibited, each with a fabulous price tag, and we are supposed to be uplifted. There are, of course, interesting visual artists out there, but this auction pantomime reflects the reductio ad absurdum of an art world where the principles of the market reign supreme.”

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is not the first to complain about the “dumbing down” of the arts in the UK. Charles Thomson and the Stuckists have been speaking out against the “dumbing down” of art in the UK for nearly a decade. UK art critic David Lee has warned about it as well. What say you?

More on Hirst from the Myartspace Blog:

'Bling' Skull goes for Big Bucks

Damien Hirst and his Diamond Skull

Damien Hirst takes a shark-sized bite out of traditional galleries by taking a different marketing path
Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

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