Art or Rubbish?

Damien Hirst, known as one of the most prominent artists of his generation have become widely recognised through his art such as the shark suspended in formaldehyde (The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991) and diamond skull (For the Love of God 2007).

His works have generated a lot of publicity (rightly or wrongly) and have also earned him a lot of money throughout his active years. There’s been lots of discussion in the art industry whether one can really classify his work as art.

So when I found out Tate Modern will be hosting his exhibition, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to check it out. The exhibition is the first major survey of his work to be held in London and trace the development of his career. Visitor will get to experience some of his most iconic works. Read the word ‘experience’. Surely indulging in art is an emotional experience rather than a physical one. So I was quite curious to see what is in stall for us to experience.

Highlights of the exhibitions, includes:

  • Spot Paintings.
  • Various animals preserved in formaldehyed (fish, shark, cow & sheep).
  • A Thousand Years, displaying the lifecycle of maggots hatching and developing into flies, then feed on a severed cow’s head on the floor. Above the cow’s head is flies circling around with some meeting their end on a insect-o-cutor; others survive to continue the cycle.
  • In and Out of Love, in a specially maintained humid environment, white canvases are hung on the wall with embedded pupae. Butterflies hatched from the paintings, flew freely around the room, fed on sugar water and flowers, mated and laid eggs. -This is my favourite-
  • Black Sun, an round display with its surface densely covered in clusters of dead flies. -This makes me sick!-
  • For the Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear shaped pink diamond located on its forehead. It costs £14 million to produce.
  • So while I enjoyed some of this works, I came out of the exhibition thinking whether it’s worth so much money. Clearly I dont quite appreciate it enough to invest in his art. But it also trigger a secondary question, if there’s no investments then no one would want to be an artists… does that actually prevent human’s creativity and innovation?

    I dont think there’s a black and white answer to this question. I like some of his work enough to classify it as art while having doubts on others. Maybe there is no need to have an answer. Maybe art is so subjective that its purpose is only to trigger a debate. This I think he has done well.

    You can visit Tate Modern now to check out his works until 9 Sep (diamond skull can only be seen until 24 June) and decide for yourself whether it is really art or rubbish.


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