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Damien Hirst defends his art

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 01:19

April 3 - Hirst's early work goes on display in a rare exhibition in London. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: The "pickled" shark and a cow and her calf cut in half; these are only two of some seventy works that have come together for the first major display of the 25-year-long career of British artist Damien Hirst. Hirst has long avoided a retrospective, deeming it "more OAP" (Old Age Pensioner) than YBA (Young British Artists) and worrying that his life's work would "amount to nothing" once it went on display. But Hirst finally accepted the idea and the exhibition is one of the highlights of the Cultural Olympiad which is based around this summer's Olympic Games in London. A Turner Prize winner, Hirst is known for being the leading figure in the influential YBA movement. The show itself focuses on some of Hirst's most important early works with a view to putting his later series into context. Visitors will be familiar with installations such as cabinets filled with medicine and his "spin" and butterfly paintings. New to many will be "In and Out of Love", a room in which butterflies hatch, live and die as the public passes through. Also on display are glass vitrines hosting maggots that develop into flies, and feed on the severed head of a cow, as well as cigarette butts in a giant ash-tray "Crematorium". Towards the end of the exhibition viewers reach a gold wallpapered room dedicated to Hirst's record-breaking auction at Sotheby's in 2008 where he raised 111 million pounds ($177 million) from over 200 new works. Called "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever", it was a groundbreaking event, conceived as a single work of art that bypassed the dealers -- and their hefty fees -- altogether. Championed early on by collector Charles Saatchi, Bristol-born Hirst has come to embody the spirit of 1990s London where his works, often given intriguing titles, appealed to hedge fund managers and oligarchs as well as an art world clamoring for new ideas. The staggering sums that some of his works achieve have also led to some accusing Hirst that the main drive behind his work now is to make money. Hirst disagrees, but he does think money helps his cause in different way. "You know I think money is an important key in the factor you know but I think, I use anything to get people's attention, and I think that money is something that does that as well. You know I think, I've learnt you have to respect money, cause it's you know, it's a big thing, and there's a lot of people who don't have it. But what I get is people say you know 'Your work is only about money' or 'your work is only about getting attention' and -- they're basically saying there's nothing beneath that you know what I mean?" he said. Disregarding his own personal involvement in the physical creation process, Hirst says his main motivation for his art is to trigger a thinking process in people. In order to achieve this, Hirst says he tries to put personal interests aside and concentrates on popular themes. "Damien Hirst" runs from April 4 to September 9 and is sponsored by the Qatar Museums Authority.

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Damien Hirst defends his art

Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 01:19