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Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie
March 27, 2009 2:38 AM   Subscribe

The making of Damien Hirst's "For The Love Of God" (previously)
posted by Blazecock Pileon (55 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh cool. I thread where we can pile shit on Damien Hirst instead of Banksy like we usually do.

Supertouch offers a step-by-step look at the creation of this masterwork which was created FOR the artist by some of the masters of European jewelry making at London’s Bentley & Skinner.

That makes Hirst more of someone who commissions art, than an artist, no?
posted by Jimbob at 2:47 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


"For The Love of God" is actually my usual reaction to Damien Hirst's outrage du jour.
posted by Skeptic at 2:49 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Instead of paying 100 million for a piece of shit, here's a hundred million nobody wants.

See, I think that's fucking great art.
posted by fullerine at 3:10 AM on March 27, 2009


hey, despite the skull being a really boring and stupid idea, the work of the jewlers is fascinating and really impressive! i feel no hatred for damien hirst. he's really just another guy making boring art as far as i'm concerned.
posted by molecicco at 3:19 AM on March 27, 2009


Amazing. I myself have, in the past, thought of astounding new concepts and then paid someone to transfer these ideas to paper in the form of drawings. Clearly I am...

...an ARTIST!

LOOK AT THE GENIUS! LOOK AT HIM STAND IN HIS ROOM!
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:21 AM on March 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


That is one hell of an ashtray.
posted by loquacious at 3:22 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


For the love of shock.
posted by Mblue at 3:24 AM on March 27, 2009


Jimbob: "That makes Hirst more of someone who commissions art, than an artist, no?"

According to his Wikipedia page (my emphasis):
Hirst said that he only painted five spot paintings himself because, "I couldn't be fucking arsed doing it"; he described his efforts as "shite"—"They're shit compared to ... the best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She's brilliant. Absolutely fucking brilliant. The best spot painting you can have by me is one painted by Rachel." He also describes another painting assistant who was leaving and asked for one of the paintings. Hirst told her to, "'make one of your own.' And she said, 'No, I want one of yours.' But the only difference, between one painted by her and one of mine, is the money.'"[16] By February 1999, two assistants had painted 300 spot paintings.[36]
With Hirst that sort of thing feels like an integral part of the point/art. I love (")his(") animals in formaldehyde box things, but they weren't manufactured by him either.

This skull candy object I don't care about, but the production process / realization of an artist's idea was interesting to get a glimpse into.

I am ignorant enough to like, even love, some of his work. If I knew more about modern art I could put Hirst's work in relation to other contemporary art; I'd have context. Then some of his art I enjoy mightn't fare so well in comparison, I dunno.
posted by Glee at 3:32 AM on March 27, 2009


In the next edition: The making of Andres Serrano's Pisschrist.
posted by Jimbob at 3:47 AM on March 27, 2009


...which was created FOR the artist by some of the masters of European jewelry making at London’s Bentley & Skinner using over 8,601 of the world’s most perfect, flawless diamonds and
2,156 grams of fresh platinum...


I am now wondering if they used any ram's bladder.
posted by ghost of a past number at 3:47 AM on March 27, 2009


Interesting and closely related article recently on the Guardian website here.

It's about the separation of art and money that Jonathan Jones - one of the Turner prize judges for 2009 - sees coming. Art such as this 'is about to be exposed as nothing more than the decor of an age of mercantile madness.'

Personally I think For the Love of God is brilliant art. And thanks for the post - really interesting.
posted by tawny at 3:50 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


That makes Hirst more of someone who commissions art, than an artist, no?

No. The art is the idea, not the work.

To pick only the most obvious example, most of the Old Masters (yeah real painters, not pickling cow guys) worked from workshops, rather than toiling alone in a dusty room as in the popular imagination. Have you ever seen the Rubens room at the Louvre? How does one man visualise that, sketch it up, then complete it, alongside the rest of his life's work? In one lifetime? Rubens certainly painted works alone, but a good deal of the works bearing his name were painted from one of his ideas or sketches by an assistant, or under his supervision. Many works feature nothing of Rubens own hand, merely his instructions or guidance. Elements of Rubens work such as certain animals or pieces of fruit were specifically sub contracted to specialist artists outwith his own workshop for completion.

Raphael Sanzio had over 50 people working under him on painting, and again many of his paintings feature very little or none of his own work directly. It's now hard to seperate the Raphael works into paintings done by him, done by his assistants, and by his pupils. This is Raphael the brand c.1500, just like Hirst the brand 2009. In this way Hirst is actually tapping into the oldest working methods of the traditional production of art. The methods that produced paintings we know and love and that hang on museum walls under one name.

And that's just painting. Objet d'art, jewellery and devotional objects closer in nature to the diamond studded skull would have been produced in identical circumstances, right through history. Tabloid-y interest in Hirst throws his working methods into the limelight but the same techniques are everywhere in art and commerce, and have been for centuries. The end result is the man with the idea gets his name on the finished product.
posted by fire&wings at 4:27 AM on March 27, 2009 [27 favorites]


I would hate Hirst as a cynical hack, except he isn't. He makes gobs sure but he buys lots of art, supporting lots of other artists with those gobs. And his vitrines were pretty great, however cold a lot of his current work leaves me.

Now, where's the link to that other artist who copied this one?
posted by From Bklyn at 4:34 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Teddy. hinkd, jasmine.
posted by Mblue at 4:36 AM on March 27, 2009


what the...bling.

Too much money, not enough substance. Where's the art? It's more of a fashion piece.

God, is the art world going loopy?!
posted by tokidoki at 4:38 AM on March 27, 2009


This is Raphael the brand c.1500, just like Hirst the brand 2009. In this way Hirst is actually tapping into the oldest working methods of the traditional production of art.

Isn't this a somewhat disingenuous way to frame the issue? Even if Raphael didn't paint all of the works attributed to his workshop himself, he was techincally capable of doing so, and probably trained the people executing the works in his name. Furthermore, I don't know if it is practically possible to discern between a Raphael painting and an almost-Raphael painting, but I'm guessing the former is considered more valuable both in artistic and financial terms.

I'm not trying to start an art-or-not-art debate about Hirst and company, as I don't care for being trolled, but I understand that clearly distancing themselves from the actual execution is part of their thing.


<cleese>I'm the bloody pope, I am.</cleese>
posted by ghost of a past number at 4:46 AM on March 27, 2009


wasn't that Andy Warhol's M.O. too? produce the idea, and have others produce the actual thing?
posted by askmehow at 5:09 AM on March 27, 2009


Except he plagiarizes the idea and then has other people make it, leaving him responsible only for branding / selling it.
posted by rottytooth at 5:24 AM on March 27, 2009


this is the point where I wish I had the poor sod's name and a time machine so I could see the look of revulsion and horror after I said to him "in over a hundred years time an extremely annoying artist will commission a skull modeled on yours made from platinum and blood diamonds"
posted by oonh at 5:33 AM on March 27, 2009


It is traditional for me to shit on Hirst in any thread in which he comes up, so:

*poop*
posted by phooky at 5:50 AM on March 27, 2009


I'm not a Hirstinite but I have to say that seeing this thing live (in a dark room where only 10 people were allowed at one time and where you couldn't stay more than a few minutes) was impressive. Maybe not so much the piece in itself but what it felt to be walking around the pedestal in the dark with a bunch of strangers like it was some religious ritual.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 5:53 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hirst is a genius.

That's my opinion of course, but I really do think that history will judge him as one of the most important artists of the end of the twentieth century. He's already the most significant artist in what is acknowledged as a significant movement in modern art - the YBAs (Young British Artists)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:01 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


those plagiarism accusations are pretty solid. what a dink.
posted by molecicco at 6:03 AM on March 27, 2009


My favorite thing about this piece is when 50 cent was offered it in exchange for a concert in the middle east but then it was stolen or something and 50 cent had to get revenge or something.
posted by I Foody at 6:28 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


> I myself have, in the past, thought of astounding new concepts and then paid someone to transfer these ideas to paper in the form of drawings.

Yeah, and I have no idea why Stanley Kubrick claimed he made 2001 and those other movies. You don't see him act in it at all. He was such a jerk, stealing credit like that.
posted by ardgedee at 6:31 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's because he was a no-talent hack. Otherwise, he would have come up with the idea of getting some other guy, asking him to direct a film and then putting his name on it.
posted by ghost of a past number at 6:36 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know, it's a pretty simple idea, but I like the skull for 21st century transi/momento mori that it is. While the level of contrast between death and riches is so high that it could be considered crass, that in itself coule be seen as a commentary on the inherent crassness of wealth in relation to human existence.

Or it is just a skull, covered in diamonds, lots of fucking diamonds. Shiny.
posted by Sova at 6:48 AM on March 27, 2009


We get the art we deserve.
posted by gwint at 6:50 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


fire&wings: No. The art is the idea, not the work... The end result is the man with the idea gets his name on the finished product.

Ah. So Damien Hirst's name shouldn't be on the skull, or on several of his pieces. I mean, if he's just generally been taking his ideas from elsewhere and reproducing them from whole cloth (as his friends and those who knew him seem to believe) then where is his own hand in all this? Here's an interesting video of John LeKay making one of his crystal skulls around 1993.

You're quite right that artists have always had assistants, and most people who argue that the art is in the hand of the person who makes it are usually arguing from a perspective that is uneducated about this fact. But I think this bothers us more today than it ever has before for a very real reason: in this age of mechanical reproduction, we crave the authenticity of manually created works, and this craving is not generally satisfied by modern art. I think that the sense in much of the art world is that this craving is actually quite vulgar and stems from a misunderstanding of art itself; but, knowing a few things about the state of art today, I tend to wonder.

We look back at these monolithic achievements of the past - the Pieta, for example - and it seems to us heroic that a man might have done this with his hands. I agree with you in this, that what matters is the final work, what it says and what it intends to say, that matters, rather than the method that the work was created, but I understand why people are compelled to believe that the method matters.
posted by koeselitz at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


From a few months ago...

Recession reaches Hirst's studios:

On Thursday, up to 17 of the 22 people who make the pills for Hirst's drug cabinet series were told their contracts were not being renewed, according to two sources close to Science Ltd, Hirst's main art-producing company. Another three who make his butterfly paintings were also told they were surplus to requirements.

It is thought that amounts to approximately half of the London-based artists who work for Hirst. They are paid about £19,000 a year, sources said. In June 2007, Lullaby Spring, a cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, sold for £9.65m....

posted by R. Mutt at 7:06 AM on March 27, 2009


Makes me want some of that Dan Aykroyd crystal skull vodka.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:09 AM on March 27, 2009


A better idea would have been to laminate and frame a sheet of hundred dollar bills. Just get down to the meat of the matter, so to speak.
posted by The Whelk at 7:10 AM on March 27, 2009


We've a photograph of the skull hanging in the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art. It's brushed with diamond dust. Just repulsively vulgar, especially in contrast to the rest of the playful, inventive, and thought-provoking stuff in the Gallery. If I didn't know who Hirst was, wouldn't have lingered more than a couple of seconds. Is that what we're meant to be celebrating? Hirst's apotheosis? I understand, even adore, conceptual work, but the only idea in Hirst's skull is "Aren't I just so fucking fabulous?" And God, even that could work, if he had the wit or invention to carry it off. Perhaps he did, once: the shark piece was a great spectacle, if nothing else. But this is just lazy, Barleyesque masturbation. Fuck Hirst, and fuck the horse he rode in on.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 7:32 AM on March 27, 2009


You fuck horses.
posted by I Foody at 7:37 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


At least Marcel Duchamp made his own urinals!
posted by Artw at 7:51 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


In the post-crash era museum guards will have long disappeared and rag-tag militia elements with some scrappy rocket launchers will stumble upon this thing, drunk of course, but rather than loot it, they'll blow it to smithereens, chant the peoples slogans, and move on in search of beef.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 7:59 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought the dusty old skull with shiny platinum teeth was more interesting than the finished thing, to be honest.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:13 AM on March 27, 2009


Provocative artist is provocative. In a vaguely disappointing, commercial way.

I like the skull. I like the pricetag as part of the art. Also it looks cool.
posted by Nelson at 8:17 AM on March 27, 2009


He bought it back himself ( with some backers ) so it would be the most expensive piece of modern art ever sold.

To oneself.
posted by Hickeystudio at 8:36 AM on March 27, 2009


Building on other artists' work wouldn't be so bad if he acknowledged it and credited the person. I like his version of Valium more than the b&w original. If he were honest about it, it would be much easier to appreciate his contribution instead of having the whole thing sullied by his plagiarism.
posted by rottytooth at 8:43 AM on March 27, 2009


Oh cool. I thread where we can pile shit on Damien Hirst instead of Banksy like we usually do.

Yes oh God yes. I hate the hatefests around here enough to restrain myself from participating, usually, but I'll make an exception for Hirst, that ostentatious nincompoop. Yegh.

(Banksy rules OK)

LOOK AT THE GENIUS! LOOK AT HIM STAND IN HIS ROOM!

Don't make me link to that photo of Momus and his pet cock, okay?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2009


I suppose I've got no taste, none of Hirst's stuff does it for me.
posted by sotonohito at 10:22 AM on March 27, 2009


'for the love of god' is a great piece, in part, because it offers so many opportunities for interpretation. depending on your p.o.v., it can offer a critique of the mercantile art world, a meditation on mortality religion and ritual, commentary on materialism, or (as in my personal opinion) just a first order aesthetic experience that flirts with the mystical. that is the source of its authenticity as a work of art. not its production, not the artist, not the origin of the idea. it is the thing itself and its potential for multilayered engagement.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


oonh "this is the point where I wish I had the poor sod's name and a time machine so I could see the look of revulsion and horror after I said to him "in over a hundred years time an extremely annoying artist will commission a skull modeled on yours made from platinum and blood diamonds""

Would he care, though? If anything, it might be a bit flattering to know that part of him is still out there in the world having an effect on people after all those years. Not getting a cut of the profits would suck, though.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:42 AM on March 27, 2009


everything in this thread

sigh.
posted by cmoj at 12:24 PM on March 27, 2009


Is there any information about where he got the skull?

I want to know about THAT guy. I mean, can you imagine in some crazy afterlife when someone comes up to you and says "Oh hey, they put thousands of diamonds in your skull, dude." I can imagine that the dude is either stoked or WICKED PISSED.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:50 PM on March 27, 2009


Considering the feelings of most 18th century English people about the necessity of maintaining the integrity of the body after death for religious reasons, I think that the original man would likely be very angry. It could be seen as a desecration of human remains.
posted by jb at 8:10 PM on March 27, 2009


fire&wings It's now hard to seperate the Raphael works into paintings done by him, done by his assistants, and by his pupils.

Indeed. Auction catalogs will list "Studio/Workshop of" meaning a work executed in the workshop of the artist possibly under his supervision; "Circle of" meaning a work of the period of the artist and showing his influence; "Follower of" meaning a work executed in the style of an artist but not necessarily a pupil; "Manner of" a work executed in the artist's style but of a later date; and "After" meaning a copy of a work of the artist.
posted by mlis at 9:10 PM on March 27, 2009


fire&wings That's a completely disingeneous comparison. First of all, while the Old Masters normally didn't work alone, and neither did they simply hand out to their workshop that they were themselves technically unable to realise. That was the patron's work, and there's a good reason why we speak now of a "Boticelli", not a "Medici". The Old Masters themselves (who did not always have large workshops, BTW) had an intimate involvement in the technical realisation of the work, and Michelangelos excruciating years in the Sixtine Chapel certainly can't be compared with Hirst's "point and command" approach.

Secondly, while they are under a sheen of post-Romantic adoration now, it is important to understand that, until the 19th century, artists were considered just as particularly accomplished workmen. Indeed, that's where the word "artisan" comes from. "Master" itself comes from the apprenticeship system of the medieval artisan guilds, and a "masterpiece" was a particularly skilled piece of work the apprentice had to accomplish to graduate to master. Like a director of an orchestra (music being one of the arts where the old work ethic and hierarchy remains alive and well), a painter with a large workshop had to not just manage his team, but also show considerable technical skill himself (or else his apprentices wouldn't remain with him for long: just having Raphael or Rembrandt's signature on a painting was worth a lot less back then than now). Art, or at least the plastic arts, was workmanship.

When did the transition to today's media theatre begin? My own theory is that it has its roots in Velazquez' ambition and the self-defeating caste system of XVII century Spain. Velazquez, while one of the most accomplished painters ever, laboured heavily under the handicap of being a "commoner" (and one with "converso" roots with that), even though he fancied himself an "hidalgo" (that is, gentry). That was not only socially humiliating for somebody in the Royal Court, but also had serious fiscal repercussions (the aristocracy didn't pay taxes). Now, he had the connections necessary to be elevated into the aristocracy, but there was a (big) hitch: aristocrats were not supposed to perform any manual work. In fact, so strong was this taboo, that the figure of the "penniless hidalgo", starving but refusing any gainful employment, was a common one in "Golden Age" Spain (and greatly responsible of the Spanish Empire's downfall). To enter aristocracy, Velazquez first had to remove the "stain" of workmanship from the plastic arts, and make them enter the "fine arts", like poetry and music, which were open to the aristocracy. This he proceeded to do with endless arguments (XVII century Spain was almost as lawyerly a society as today's US...the legal profession was one of the few avenues open to all those hidalgos) extolling the "spiritual" aspects of painting, to the detriment from the actual work involved. Velazquez' apotheosis came with his most famous painting, where his elevation into the Order of St. James is made apparent by him wearing its emblem. According to legend, the emblem was not painted by Velazquez, but by the King himself upon receiving the painting.

All this would have been completely incomprehensible by, say, the Dutch Masters, who saw themselves as workmen, and very proudly so. The "spiritualisation" of the plastic arts, however, started there, and got a big push by the 19th century Romantics (who, apart from being big Velazquez fans, were also completely bonkers). It finally culminated with Duchamp's "Fountain", a practical joke turned paradigm of modern art...
posted by Skeptic at 4:58 AM on March 28, 2009 [6 favorites]


ugh. i know this thread is probably way dead by now, but i can't help myself. re: above comment, as well as a recurrent theme in this thread. the industrialization of society in general would certainly be a factor, as well. as people accepted other mass-produced items into their lives, we could expect that art would follow suit. photography is a prime example, the kodak 'brownie' camera let anybody (reasonably bourgeois, natch) make images and completely removed the technical aspect of their production beyond the seeing and the 'click.' and while famed and highly collectible (read: valuable) photographers like ansel adams were meticulous and involved in the image-making, photogs like cartier bresson considered himself more of a journalist and didn't print most of his own images. and, as noted above by skeptic's helpful link, duschamp's ready made series were items he collected, not fabricated: essentially a kind of 'sculptural photography.' (or some such) and on and on until, somebody at apple can develop the idea for an iphone, but it takes thousands of people to actually put one in your hands. but in the corporation, that idea guy/gal will receive credit and likely monetary compensation for their great idea. same thing with hirst's 'for the love of god.' art is not different from any other material aspect of this capitalist/post-industrial society. hirst's method is valid, and not a productive point of critique on the actual work in question in my opinion.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:37 AM on March 28, 2009


that is one rambling and ugly comment. and too lazy for any links, to boot! for the love of god, more coffee!
posted by barrett caulk at 9:46 AM on March 28, 2009


Skeptic just summed up my Intro to Art History class FOR FREE.
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 AM on March 28, 2009


LOOK AT THE GENIUS! LOOK AT HIM STAND IN HIS ROOM!
--FoB
That line has been stuck in my head for three goddamned days now. I don't even know if it's a relevant quote or a clever reference; Google would probably ruin it for me.

Look at him stand in his room. Still funny.
posted by Glee at 2:22 PM on March 29, 2009


Google does not ruin it, not at all.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:38 PM on March 29, 2009


Heh, those anthropomorphized dogs are up to no good at all. Searchin' ain't so bad. (Sorry for the OT.)
posted by Glee at 3:54 PM on March 29, 2009


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