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What is art?

To be or not to be…

Damien Hirst addresses the complex relations between art, science and religion…

On Sunday at the White Cube Gallery in London, the most expensive piece of artwork went on display. Damien Hirst’s solo show called “Beyond Belief” has a series of paintings documenting his son’s birth by cesarean section, some paintings of cancer, and of course a shark in a formaldehyde tank.

The piece that’s making all the news is “For the love of God” a skull, encased in platinum then covered with approximately 8,500 VVS-Flawless diamonds. Holy mackrel. It cost approximately $20m to make, that’s just a guess… and yeah if they can find a buyer, it will be the most expensive piece of art ever sold.

“I just want to celebrate life by saying to hell with death,’ said the Damien Hirst, ‘What better way of saying that than by taking the ultimate symbol of death and covering it in the ultimate symbol of luxury, desire and decadence? The only part of the original skull that will remain will be the teeth. You need that grotesque element for it to work as a piece of art. God is in the details and all that.

Why, though, is he doing it? ‘I’ve always adhered to the principle that the simplest ideas are the best, and this will be the ultimate two fingers up to death. I want people to see it and be astounded. I want them to gasp.’ But what if it turns out to be more bling than breathtaking? ‘If it’s vulgar, I’ll put it on a chain and hang it round my neck - or I’ll stick it on the mantelpiece.’ (Quote pulled from The Guardian UK)

Now, there’s questions about the validity of Hirst’s art… what’s a good piece of art if there’s no discourse or controversy? If there is I’m not a big fan of it. But the more I read about this piece from the standpoint of a person who just loves pretty things and sometimes likes to have the occasional thought pass through, I can’t help but to love this work of art. It’s an impressive feat. It’s the biggest single undertaking by a jeweler since the Crown Jewels, it’s beautiful, its grotesque, it confronts our own consumer culture. And most of all there is something to be said about the disconnect between life and death in Western culture. I’m terrified of death. I’m 32 years old and have never been to a funeral. I just can’t go. Death frightens me. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

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Discussion

3 comments for “To be or not to be…”

  1. WOW! I dont know what to think of that - it does take your breath away but I can’t help but to think what a waste of perfect diamonds…i’d rather wear them :-)

    Posted by JO | June 6, 2007, 1:48 pm
  2. Well, Damien says:

    ‘If it’s vulgar, I’ll put it on a chain and hang it round my neck - or I’ll stick it on the mantelpiece.’

    so i guess you can wear it.
    ; )

    Posted by Jennine | June 6, 2007, 1:52 pm
  3. I’d take it as an insuating message: one of awareness perhaps? on how people out there, Africa in particular, are literally dying, or more accurately being killed for diamonds; diamonds, which in turn someone out there is/was/will…be willing to do anything for. Ironic is it not?

    “brilliant” piece nonetheless. Hats off to the creator of such piece.

    Posted by Me-Leo | June 20, 2007, 4:02 pm

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