Damien Hirst's giant replica of a kid's anatomy model


Damien Hirst was sued by the company that makes the 14-inch Young Scientist Anatomy Set for his giant sized replica of the same, but it was so worth it.

Giant Anatomy


  1. I like him, I’d love the chance to make any form of art and get paid millions for it. Even if it’s just blowing something up.

  2. Sorry, I don’t care if he’s the biggest douche in the universe. I love the guy’s work.

    One of the things I love about him is how much he pisses some people off.

  3. I don’t get the “I love the guy’s work” comment, MKULTRA. At what point has he done anything original?

    I mean, here at BB we say “lookit this cool (or gross, or absurd) shee-ite” we don’t say “I am an arteest, and this thing somebody else did first is my own original art”… I mean, I’d seen at least three sharks in formaldehyde before Hirst claimed they were an artistic statement. Hell, I’ve seen a hippo stomach in a stainless steel box, if I show it to Hirst will that become “art” too?

  4. I have to think of the thousands of decent to brilliant talented starving artists out there flipping burgers and scrounging to stay alive, then I wonder why he’s drawn notice. Maybe it’s because no one would trust him to flip burgers. I don’t think he’s worth attention.

  5. I don’t get why the toy company is upset. Sell the “originals” in the gift shop of wherever this knockoff is being displayed.

  6. Oh, this is just so gorgeous. What an incredible educational model! I had the little model human, but it was so small. It is really cool how this one is blown up to look so big. What I always really really wanted was an old anatomical chart for a college lecture room. The illustrations are fully colored, finely detailed, and larger than life. The amazing soft machine… (S.Rushdie)

  7. I wouldn’t stand in front of it too close. Those “parts” always seemed to fall out.

  8. I’ve heard that Hirst derives his inspiration from the paterns he finds in his own vomit. Is this true?

  9. The only way this could be better is if it was merely one in a series–the others being giant Wolfman, Frankenstein and Dracula models.

  10. Has this guy accomplished anything that Andy Warhol didn’t like 40+ years ago? I generally can’t stand Andy Warhol, but at least he did it before anyone else.

  11. Thank God it’s not anatomically correct. I have enough body image issues as it is, thank you very much.

  12. @ #5: Sorry, I don’t really have time to explain the meanings of “re-presentation” and “recontextualization”, and how they apply to the meaning of art in general and the nature of sculpture in particular.

    This conversation pretty much started with Duchamp’s Fountain in 1916. If you’re going to be critical, you might want to start your education there. Also see: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. ad infinitum.

    It’s as tired and common as hearing “Hey, my kid coulda done that” in a gallery of non-representational paintings.

  13. Hate for Hirst always seems to fall into the same big bin, which can be summarized thusly:

    “My god, how obvious! I probably could have done that (if I had thought of doing it, had the resources, the skilled help, and the will to carry it out, as well the time, energy and inclination to make it happen), and yet, HE’s the one making millions of dollars with this perfectly obvious thing that I almost could have done, maybe! What a bastard for having all that money! I hate him!!”

    I suspect the reason for this is that his work isn’t mysterious in any physical sense: it seems perfectly obvious how he did what he did, and that angers people when they hear about his success.

    I’ve heard some of the same reactions to Andy Goldsworthy, but to a far fainter degree. Probably because even the most ignorant mouthbreather can see beauty in his work, and because his paydays don’t make headlines.

  14. Ok. YES THIS IS RANT, but please hear me out.
    I enjoy much of Damien’s stuff but i have a MAJOR linguistic gripe with referring to people like him or Jeff Koons as “artist”.

    “Artist” can mean many things, but in common parlance, people assume the when someone is called an artist, it means that the person personally is involved in some kind of hands-on personal way with making art.

    Most of the biggest selling “artists” of the late 20th century were(are) figurehead CEOs of design and promotion corporations which market and brand themselves as fine art.

    This NOT a critique of quality.

    This about truth in advertising and expectation.

    Work “by Damien Hirst” was made by Damien like a Disney movie was made by Walt Disney.
    Or like Dolcegabbana is busy right now stitching swarovski crystal onto purses.
    Or like Steve Jobs hand built your Iphone in a magical garage at the north pole.

    The difference is: many sophisticated, cultured people still think that if some is billed as an artist that it means the person makes their own work. They do not understand that these “artists” subcontract anonymous designers and artisans to build stuff and then slap their own name on it when its done. I’ve know people ho worked for them, and they pay better than McDonald’s but with fewer benefits than Trader Joe’s.

    I’m not dissing the art form, but there needs to be different word for the role they play in the production of the work.

  15. @19: Re: the “My Kid coudda done that” argument:

    My answer to that is always “Why yes, your kid could have done that, and now that you have become a curmudgeonly asshole with little capability to think beyond your self-important, yet meaningless droll life, you couldn’t, and that is why this artist’s work is meaningful, he has somehow managed to NOT fuck his life up like you did yours, and lives with a childlike awe of the world that will irritate you more and more as you slowly decline towards your inevitable end.”

  16. It bothers me that people are comparing Hirst to people like Marcel Duchamp. The reason that The Fountain was so incredibly influencial/controversial was because it had never been done before, so its impact was actually relevant to the revolutionary times in which it was “created.” These days, sculptures like this have been done so many times that they just don’t really make a statement anymore. Now it’s just capitalizing off of other people’s ideas.

  17. @23: “lives with a childlike awe of the world”

    Love or hate Hirst, but I don’t believe his work is any sort of manifestation of childlike awe. No child that I know possesses the deep cynicism some of his pieces have displayed.

    Also, as someone who has worked as a visual artist for many years, I’ve grown to hate the idea of “artist as special snowflake”, who sees the world more specially than those poor downtrodden hoi polloi who “don’t get” how truly genius “_______” (insert favourite challenging artists) is. I’ve met a lot of artists, and some of them are bitter depressing cranks. Talented depressing cranks, but cranks nonetheless.

  18. Hirst’s art is pure garbage. Every new piece I see just makes me shrug with indifference at its meaninglessness and lack of any kind of beauty or interest.

    The only emotion it evokes in me is anger.

  19. “Oh, I’m sorry guys, the language you used isn’t original. I now hate you for it, and if you argue with me, I’ll hate you more”

    Just a metaphor, but seriously: Why bother caring?

    He gets paid more than you for doing less? Please.
    Work in a steel mill*, and get back to me… If you do work in steel mill: Thanks, honestly.

    *I mean the blue collar jobs!

  20. Hirst is everything I hate about the Young British Artists: egotistical, insipid, repetitive, talentless… when will this relentless adoration towards this void con-men die? Long live the Stuckists!

  21. Jason Pitzl-Waters “I’ve met a lot of artists, and some of them are bitter depressing cranks.”
    Woo! I’m an artist!

    “Talented depressing cranks…”

  22. Jason Pitzl-Waters is now my hero.

    A person who revisits something mundane (like Duchamp with his “fountain”) without adding any more meaning (other than “re-contextualization” – please! – if changing the context to an art gallery added meaning for you, you need to spend more time outside art galleries) is not, in my opinion, displaying any talent other than a genius for marketing. And that, only if it makes money.

    I think here, though, Hirst legitimately added something. Namely, HUGENESS. It’s the first of his pieces I’ve seen that I liked.

  23. if BB didn’t mention it was a piece by Hirst then all these critical comments wouldn’t exist and everyone would simply enjoy the piece for what it is.

    im just sayin’…

    everyone is so caught up in the name game. its my least favorite element of art school coming back to haunt me again.

  24. Warhol “…did it befor anybody else” and Duchamp’s work “…had never been done before?” What the hell do you think, that those two grew up in a vacuum?

    Duchamp was no more original than Hirst or Fairey or Paul Rubens. “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” His time of copying and stealing just predates your awareness. All art is a growth from and heavily influenced by everything that came before it, and if you can’t see a connection it’s because you don’t know where to look, not because it isn’t there. Duchamp even made a series of eight “replicas” of Fountain in the 60’s; what hadn’t been done before about that? I know! Being paid!

    Point being, as usual, if someone is whining about something not being Art, they’re just signaling that they don’t get it.

  25. Yes, I love/enjoy this statue. Yes, Damien Hirst is troubling.

    The “Young British Artists” was Charles Saatchi’s brilliant rebranding, polishing, repackaging and up-scaling of 1960s & 70s Fluxus ideas. The YBAs and Saatchi funneled these ideas back through the art world in a way the art world could embrace and value. Damien Hirst’s & Charles Saatchi’s real art is not about “Art” or “Ideas” or “Originality” it’s about creating a brand and then using it to make money. The same branding game made the Saatchi brothers wealthy in advertising. Then they took it into art and into politics with great success, too.

  26. “Duchamp even made a series of eight “replicas” of Fountain in the 60’s; what hadn’t been done before about that? I know! Being paid!”

    Yeah, and Dadaism failed because of things like this. Duchamp himself complied with the art world that he and his contemporaries were rebelling against. Hirst is riding on the back of a movement that should have been declared dead upon creation.

    “Point being, as usual, if someone is whining about something not being Art, they’re just signaling that they don’t get it.”

    No. I completely get that he is trying to “push the boundaries” of art by “making” all of this crap. But the boundaries have already been pushed by the people who came before him, and his being the richest artist in the world is a testament to the fact that he is no longer in untested waters.

  27. @22: there are scores of smaller, barely profitable artists who also have assistants. i can think of a few artist friends who assist-for-pay other artists in their own productions, and those other artists are by-no-means wealthy CEO types of any manner of large art corporation.

    are they mom-and-pop art corporations, then? are they any more or less respectable?

    at which fuzzy-logic point does that type of art production company become a goliath? two assistants? fifteen assistants?

    is there a quantifiable point which tells us how much effort an artist should personally put into each piece before it is merely product? does that effort count all the effort that went on before, and does it count thought, and does it count organizing, and does it count networking?

    i’m not picking on your point so much as expanding on it, because i’ve thought about these things before, and it’s a terribly sticky subject. when we hold art to be something completely other than business, it becomes harder and harder to find real artists.

  28. @22… Yes. Not only are these things usually larger versions of things that exist, but they aren’t made by the people that get the credit. It is a bit ridiculous. Am I missing something that involves skill?

  29. Damien Hirst is in trouble, but 14-inch Young Scientist Anatomy Set is really interesting thinks for the children.

  30. You should be able to get *life size* plastic models at the teachers’ supply stores. I mean, they could improve the standard issue plastic model a little. What if… the organs were the actual size and weight of a human part? What if the texture approximated the feel of real human tissue? That would be a very cool thing for the classroom! Believe you me!

  31. I know very little about Hirst, except I think he did a gigantic dead animals in formaldehyde exhibit which I liked. (* Durr, I just googled it, and yes, this was Hirst)

    Frankly, all these vitriolic attacks on him make me that much more interested in his work.

    Ad hominim attacks on the artist himself (he’s such a pompous self-centered jerk, etc) should have absolutely no bearing on one’s assessment of that artist’s work, unless your only interest in him is through the celebrity gossip pages, rather than through the art pages. If I refused to listen to any music or watch any films that were made by assholes, my CD and DVD collection would be dramatically smaller and the loss would be mine. The-artist-is-a-jerk is a really small minded argument for dismissing a work of art.

    As for the notion that the artist must be some kind of solitary, original, genius creator? This is an artifact of the early 19th century, and it hasn’t held up very well.

    Try this out instead: The artist is someone who helps us to see something we’ve already seen and dismissed in a new, interesting way.


  32. Time was, you could go into almost any good gallery and find artwork that was a feast for the intellect and the soul. Today, only a damned fool walks into a modern gallery expecting “a good meal”. I mean, it could happen — purely by chance — that you walk into a Saatchi gallery on your own two feet and leave on the wings of an angel, but only because in your despair you vomited on a diamond-crusted skull and got hustled to the exit by a copper who’d submitted himself to being “re-contextualized” as a cherub: “Eef dee Chreesto say I must to be rosy-bottomed Cherub, den a Cherub I must be! He ees, after all, dee Christo!”

    Nowadays, it makes far more sense to “re-contextualize” most famous galleries as banks, with artists in the role of “engravers” who have the freedom to make their currency look any which way they want — as long as it’s more or less a consistent product — with an exchange rate agreed upon by a few auction houses and critics.

    “Our bank accepts the following currencies as legal tender:

    * Sharks in formaldehyde

    * 50 ft replicas of educational kids’ toys

    * Urinals

    * Pictures of soup cans

    * Slashed canvases…”

    See how much cooler “re-contextualizing” a thing makes it?

  33. @44 Or, hey, here’s an idea: What about a Real Doll with realistic insides!

    (I mean, no offense, but if you want to give some poor 7th grade kid really rich and satisfying nightmares, try dropping a perfectly life-like human liver/brain/small intestine on her desk.)

  34. This whole hubbub about assistants is so bizarre. An artist like this is very much akin to a film director — they have a vision, and wrangle a ton of people to get it made. Often they have big egos and treat people poorly. So, sure he paid people to fabricate the freaking sculpture — who cares. I like it, you hate it, everybody’s getting catty. Sounds like art.

  35. Slizzered @46

    Yeah I agree, I like my art representational, but I don’t like it representational of boring things. What’s the point in a picture of a soup can for example? Art should have no relevance to my every day life, and woe betide an artist if they DO try and use something I’ve seen before in their art, I’ll leave them crying on the floor when I tell them that their work doesn’t fall inside the strictly worded definition of art that everybody’s already agreed on.

  36. His ‘Virgin Mother‘ is a similar work, which I personally find more pleasing.

    Damien Hirst was sued by the company that makes the 14-inch Young Scientist Anatomy Set

    …and Hirst himself threatened to sue a 16-year old artist for using photographs of one of his works.

    #45, nosehat:

    Try this out instead: The artist is someone who helps us to see something we’ve already seen and dismissed in a new, interesting way.

    You might want to avoid Hirst’s spin & dot paintings if you want to maintain that opinion.

  37. I don’t hate him or his work, at all. Not even a bit.

    I don’t pretend to have a greatly detailed knowledge of artists or the history of art, but art is not only about a continuum of intent or context-over-time. It’s just as much about the incidental, and the flippant.

    Not all art is high art, nor should it be.
    Not all art is seeking originalty, nor should it.

    And while the “this isn’t art” comments from people unfamiliar with the wider world of art, grate on me; what I really hate is too-clever people getting all “this isn’t art” because of how something fits into their narrow view of art as linear academic art history.

    I think anonymous@33 nails it:

    if BB didn’t mention it was a piece by Hirst then all these critical comments wouldn’t exist and everyone would simply enjoy the piece for what it is.

  38. Make something BIG. it’s and old and cheap trick.

    people are easily impressed by it

  39. #36 has nailed it.

    Thorstein Veblen will talk you through it, just Google his name.

  40. Is it art? That’s debatable.
    Is it interesting and thought-provoking? Not really.


    And yes, I do think the company that actually designed the model should get a cut of the profit. Think of them as “assistants.”

  41. It’s not the quality of the art; it’s the feeling of being gamed. I like some of Hirst’s work, especially those with surgical / pharmaceutical-themes. The giant spin art is a joke, but the butterfly compositions, ripped off from a Victorian pastime, are pretty to look at.

    But it’s galling to have a mega-advertising agency, especially one that was so connected to the Conservative Party, an entity generally hostile to the arts, saturate your mediasphere so that, like Hirst or not, you’ll hear about him. Similarly Madonna, but happily that’s mostly over.

  42. OK, I admit: I don’t even know who Hirst is. And frankly I don’t think I’ll be doing any Googling. Interesting as the discussion on the theory and function of art is, sometimes life is just too short…

  43. I thought this statue was stupid until I scrolled down and saw the person, giving it scale. That made a huge difference.

  44. If I were Damien Hirst I would LOVE the fact that people were defending me and my work as though I were some sort of super-challenging “outsider” artist battering down the walls of stuffy academia and middle-brow tastes. The reality, of course, is that Hirst is the richest living artist in the world, has been feted by galleries, museums, art critics, art historians, auction houses, the press, and numerous wealthy collectors. Hirst is the very picture of the modern art mainstream. Hirst, and folks very much like Hirst are now the institution.

    If it weren’t for the vehement anti-Hirst sentiment among some critics and art-lovers raising the hackles of self-appointed defenders of “real art” he’d have almost no “sizzle” in his metaphorical art-steak.

    As someone pointed out earlier in the comments, the real rebels in British art (if such a thing exists) are the “Stuckists” (a “remodernist” group of figurative painters). They are often dismissed, mocked, and ignored by the movers and shakers of the art world, so they must be doing something right, right?

  45. Re:my own post at #22 and its critics

    Yes, i’m aware there’ve always been artists who work with assistants, apprentices etc.

    I don’t demand that a photographer do all of their own developing, or that a sculptor must build their own foundry. (although in both cases they probably should)

    Koons and Hirst manage the corporate production of luxury novelty goods for the super rich.

    Calling them artists is like calling Philip H. Knight (co-founder of NIKE) a “cobbler”.
    Its just NOT an accurate description.

    I could go on about the melding of the western myths of the “genius” and post-religion celebrity cult, with the ideal of the Ayn Randian capitalist UBERman.

    but for now i’m sticking to: Where does the line lie for a descriptive word having its meaning corrupted by nu-speak?

    There now exists an art-making industry that has far more in common with the film-making industry than with the a starving painter laboring alone in the garret. The language used to describe this industry should reflect the reality.

  46. Hirst should make modern weapons out of solid gold – they’d certainly be useless, as gold is too soft.
    But solid gold tanks or howitzers appear to be within Hirst’s budget.

    And MKultra, Duchamps too was a hack, and a charlatan: this entire line of artists using “ready-mades” are.

  47. Yeah the entire “line” from Duchamps on down, produced uninteresting work: but it can be fun, for children maybe…typical Dada bullshit: as imitation is the sincerest form of theft, in my book.

    It may be art (as is anything created by human artifice): but it’s very very far from being ‘great’ or even ‘good’ art.

    But there is no accounting for taste: and some appear to enjoy the taste of ordure….

  48. And the Dadaists called themselves charlatans, while at the same time, Breton and Jacob attacked other members of the movement for collaborating with the Ballet Russes.

    The Art Gallery of Ontario has an interesting exhibit of commercial objects and design by the Surrealists. Many people look at Dali’s lobster phone and say “my kid could do that,” but do people argue that his perfumes or jewelry made his work less important?

    I have mixed feelings about Hirst’s work- I’m not impressed by this, but I have liked other pieces of this and I can appreciate his audacity (I also enjoy the work of some of the Stuckists). I am fascinated by the idea of the artist as CEO or brand, however. In the era of late capitalism, this is idea is as meaningful to me as the art itself.

  49. Ron Mueck is your go-to guy for hyperrealistic sculptures of giant people. I’m convinced that most of Hirst’s patrons will wake up one day, look at their shark-in-formaldehyde or whatever, and say, “I paid how much for what?”

  50. Art at BB is always an interesting topic, but I don’t understand why the ignorant haters need to rant. We don’t dog your affinity for unicorn pictures and Lego sculptures do we? And sorry to inform you, but your kid couldn’t do this, any more than kids in the 50s could make a Picasso.

    Also, fyi, artists have had their studio assistants doing ‘their’ work since before the Renaissance, so that common nonsense argument ain’t flying either.

    ftw, here’s Hirst’s best piece:

  51. @ #60: Hey, feel free to reject the entirety of 20th and 21st century art and culture. There are endless hordes of Walmart shoppers who agree wholeheartedly with you. This is why Thomas Kindade and his ilk exist.

    I actually find it quite nice when someone makes a statement like that: it makes it so easy to tune them out entirely from that point on. :)

  52. so hard to get taken seriously… I`m starting a new art movement: `The Serious Critics` (no we DON`T look like mole rats) What we do is infiltrate the governments of societies whose artists we disapprove of, and obliterate them by removing their good leaders with petty scandals while encouraging the opportunistic scum. A country in economic chaos won`t have spare cash for the culture we don`t like.

  53. “I’ll leave them crying on the floor when I tell them that their work doesn’t fall inside the strictly worded definition of art that everybody’s already agreed on.”

    McDonalds serves hamburgers. They suck. Not because they don’t fit my definition of a hamburger. Just that they have a lifeless flavor and lack key ingredients like nutritional value.

  54. MKULTRA, because I disagree with your assessment of someone’s work does not mean I intend insult to you or challenge your right to have opinions different from my own. I read your statements and take them as interesting (and, perhaps, wrong) evaluations that are interesting precisely because they differ so strongly from my own. I don’t read BB comments to hear the echoes inside my head, after all.

  55. Dadaism is not the whole of 20th and 21st C. art: and as to Kinkade … suffice to say that had I not heard the name in severe criticism of his work, I’d not know of it at all. It’s unworthy of notice: but it’s popularity is a reaction to this ‘theoretical” Euro-art stuff.
    Why should artists need to be such weirdos?
    And I don’t think I said anything about the expressionist, impressionist, surrealist or hyper-realist schools. My comment was directed at the “repurposing” of other people’s designs, as in this work, or Deschamps Urinal: which are cheats and frauds, IMO.
    That someone took the jokes of the dadaists seriously is the biggest joke of all.
    These early 20th C art movements were by and large created by people who had not the technical skills to produce good work, and who therefore and thereafter disavowed technique as “bourgeois”.
    That these works now command high prices is nether here nor there as to their value as art.
    Dadaism was IMO a political movement first, not an Art movement: primarily a type of reverse snobbery (or bigotry) against the comfortable, well-off and successful: fueled by resentment, actively denying beauty as a criterion for aesthetic judgment, and inspiring only despair and disgust except in those who had tried – and failed – to make it in the Art Societies of the time. It’s garbage: of historical value only, to show how the carnage of the First World War distorted maimed and deranged the artistic spirit in Europe. Of course, technical skill matters not to these “artists”.
    American early 20th C art is much better, in general: that the elitist American galleries did not agree, and exalted Duchamps et al while denigrating Rockwell and the other great commercial artits in the USA is a shame.

    History shows that as societies decline due to war, so does the nature and quality of their art – was 20th C Europe any different?
    Or early 21st C America?

  56. Anyone who finds this at all interesting needs to see more art. Re-contextualisation is no longer enough, if it ever was. This statue adds nothing to anything. zzz.

  57. Riddle:

    The curator of an art gallery makes a value judgment, declaring a biggie-sized knock-off of a toy to be the work of an Art God.

    Along comes a fellow who isn’t affiliated with the gallery. But let’s imagine he happens to have enjoyed a massive amount of art. He too makes a value judgment. “No, not a God. I mean, it’d be rockin’ if it was in the window of a toy store, but that ain’t especially brilliant. Nope, just the work of a mortal.”

    Who’s being sillier?

  58. Mrs. Allyn, my first grade teacher, handed me a note she had stapled shut. “Give this to your mother” was her instruction. I was scared shiftless- I thought she hated me. I came into possession of that very letter when Mom passed away. Got it right here. It says, in essence, “Little [Troofie] loves to draw pictures to amuse his friends. He’s quite an artist, and I recommend that you monitor his progress and nurture his talents.”
    The bitch stripped me of my dreams. I never got to choose between cowboy, astronaut or ballerina- she condemned me to a life at a drawing table.
    So what?! Indeed.
    I’m here to tell youse guys that YOU are the artist. Everyone is an artist- to the degree that you say “That’s good enough.” If you want to be a better artist, do it over, do it better, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw, until it IS good enough. That’s an artist’s “magic”. Patience and determination.
    When you observe a piece of art, there’s really only two questions:
    1. How does it make you feel? and
    2. Do you like it?
    Now a little IMHO:
    Warhol painted a soup can. Fantastically original? Ummm…
    Kinkade? His paintings make me feel wonderful.
    Possibly The Finest Painting I Ever Saw? That SteamPunk ‘Alice In Wonderland’. I think your Art History ‘Masters’ pale in comparison. Every one of them.
    Again, as always applies to art, OMHO.

  59. Reminds me of “Body Worlds,” just without that whole human thing.

  60. Yes Troofseeker: your questions are spot on.
    Emerson once wrote that the only purpose of art was to inspire the viewer to create more art, her own art.
    I have a problem with “art” that intentionally produces dejected or unhappy viewers, that is intentionally ugly: what’s the point to it, exactly, besides satisfying the creators’ sadism and need for remuneration?
    That said, I actually like some of Hirst’s stuff: it’s fun. (I’m not kidding about the solid gold howitzers and tanks!) But ‘great’? Well, no. This is just Oldenberg re-done, isn’t it?
    Warhol does stand alone though, and IMO some of his stuff is “great art”.
    Warhol always seemed a realist to me: after all, I see soup cans in the Market every week: but I’ve never seen anything that looks like the subjects in the “Old Masters”. I mean, which of these, Warhol or Titian, is depicting fantasy, which reality? I say Warhol is the realist.
    Just consider his 70s portraits as a discrete group: a set of beautiful and realistic representations of the “somebody” people of his times.

  61. Re: ‘You guys just don’t understand high art! Recontextualization! You need to expand your definition of art!’

    Understanding the importance of recontextualization in the future of art is not mutually exclusive with hating Damien Hirst. Damien Hirst is a sham, taking the place of hardworking artists who actually use visual mediums to say interesting things about society. (And existance in general) In many cases, his work’s value is based only on the fact that a lot of money was spent to buy it–and guess what, ‘metacommentary on consumerism’ is bullshit.

    And guess what? Not only did he steal the anatomy model, this kind of exhibit has been done before. Giant recontextualized models of human body parts in a gallery exhibit, yeah, that’s been done. He’s just stealing other artist’s ideas at this point.

  62. I just don’t understand the venom.

    There’s what.. a handful of people on the planet who have given Hirst too much money for his art?

    I didn’t.

    You didn’t.

    Do we care if rich people spend today’s million on a Hirst instead of another house? If he was in the street hustling money from real peoples’ pockets I’d care, but realistically he’s popular with the overly rich and the media (sometimes), and beyond that none of us need to engage if we don’t want to.

    He isn’t a supplier of medicines, or food, or even operating systems.. He’s just an artist you don’t need to like. Like all the shit we usually see on MTV; I don’t like to call them musicians, but they are.. just crap ones.

    There are lots of them, and lots of them get more attention than they deserve, but I don’t need to care. I don’t need to pay attention. I’m way past thinking that the culture the mainstream media covers is relevant.

    Attend to the ones you like. Promote them, and make the underground the place to be, like it traditionally has been.

  63. @ Arkizzle #83:

    Christo has a whole cadre of haters too, many of whom seem to be under the false impression that any big expensive piece of public art must have been paid for with their tax dollars.

  64. Well I was inspired to search out anatomy models today and found a variety of plastic humans. One was basically a hacked blow up doll and it kind of made me seasick…

    The one really sweet kit involved the human body systems as rendered in felt. Life size, soft and puffy to the touch… I couldn’t seem to find it online. Maybe someone has done something similar on etsy…

    I still think all artists need to get busy making and marketing all of the wonderful educational materials that I know they have in them. A hungry market beckons a new economy… Educational products, people. Focus…

  65. Ugly Canuck, Duchamp took great delight in tweaking people during his time, and i’m sure it would thrill him to be doing so beyond the grave! It’s simply wrong to say that Duchamp and other Dadaists were not skilled at traditional methods. Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending a Staircase is an abstract-Futurist masterpiece, and the traditional painterly skills of Arp, Ernst, Grosz, Dix, Picabia and Hartley are not credibly challenged.

    Dada is much more than just painting or museum art, as it encompassed film, photography, poetry and performance as well. Dada also expanded modes of creativity by introducing and popularizing collage, photomontage, and assemblage, as well as film as a fine art medium. Far from being a dead end, Dada has had a huge effect, influencing Surrealism, Conceptualism, Fluxus and post-modernism, among many others.

    One goal of Dada was to explode and expand on popular conceptions of what art ‘is,’ and particularly, that it is beyond aesthetics, following the belief that art should reflect the many facets of life, not just the pretty ones. While feelings of anger, disorientation and counfoundment are uncomfortable for some, they run far deeper than the sentimental cloying draftsmanship of, say, Rockwell, or his heir Kincade, whose talents lie in exploiting the artificial, the superficial and the sentimental. It’s no mistake where their work hangs, or where Fountain sits.

    I’m of mixed feelings about Hirst, and have a deep dislike of Koons, yet I realize there is something more there than I personally can dig. Above all, what separates art from representation is that it challenges the viewer to reconsider what they are viewing. Agree with his work or not, Hirst is closer to this spirit than fluffy watercolorists pumping out endless pastel sunsets.

  66. Dewittsf: Separating art from representation? Is that possible? All representations are art: but not all art is representational, I’ll grant that.
    Art as “expressional psychotherapy” for the artist, and more valuable for that function than any other?
    Thereby trumping the artist’s duty to her viewers’to edify and entertain, amuse and enlighten? If any consideration of the viewer is undertaken by such ‘artists’, at all – many such deny any duty whatsoever to their beholders, their audience.
    No fan of sentiment, eh? Brutalized by life, are we? No time to please for children or matrons, fond old men or young lovers, eh?
    “Running far deeper”: where precisely? My carotid artery? In some bedrock, somewhere?

    Hans Arp’s premonition has been realized: gangsters are using art to control people’s minds….now, torture is a necessity…

  67. In fact the Republican ploy of “creative destruction” a la Iraq is just putting into practice what the DaDaists did for art: attacking “fine art” to create the grounds for the acceptance of their own art….
    Irony seems to be a modern disease, I’m quoting DaDaists, to help to disparage DaDaism!

  68. Ark, yeah! I remember now Cory posting those images. And if I remember correctly, he took the photos himself? That is what I think art should be. Very accessible, interactive, sturdy, ownable. Reproductions of original work should be way more widely available in the 25 to 100 dollar range.

    Who can really afford more than that for art anyway?

  69. Well I’d buy more art, but my walls are full already…I’d have to throw something out, to get something new.
    I like art, but I’m not moving just so I can have more of it.

  70. h Damien… the Zha Zha Gabour of the art world

    “Famous for being well known”.

    What we tend to forget is that there is an awful lot of dross produced in any period. Right now all art has value because the nouveaux riche needed something which affirms their identity as nouveaux riche (who else will spend 25 million on diamond skull?). Sooner or later the great sort out will determine who is and isn’t.

    I’d rather hold Jake and Dinos Chapman’s Goya series than anything by Damien Hirst.

    1. Damien… the Zsa Zsa Gabor of the art world

      Only if he slaps a cop, marries nine times (including a prince) and loses his fortune to Bernie Madoff but gets bailed out by his brothel-owning stepson. She works her inexplicable celebrity.

  71. There’s something about our society that seems to loathe people who achieve outrageous success.

    Why is this? Are other cultures like this? Has it always been this way?

  72. i had that anatomy model 1990-something! Unfortunately he lost some organs over the years.


    seriously, folks,
    I don’t see that much HATE here.

    On the average most people posting seem to at least enjoy looking at the statue.

    Why there are so many people who have the gut- level reaction that they must leap to defend the obscenely rich and powerful against ANY criticism? FYI, The obscenely rich and powerful powerful will NEVER write you a thank you note or invite you to dinner.

  74. @#100: There’s a deep thread of fair reward for hard work in the stereotypical American dream. We don’t tend to take well to people that seem to have achieved their success without either hard work or ability.

    Personally, I like the size. It is correct. Ron Mueck may have found that size also.

    Anyway, artists and those who love them (family or fans) also tend to get extremely defensive when someone gets famous doing something they don’t see as worthwhile. It’s hard not to, when you’re laboring in a field with such a harshly focused distribution of wealth. The business of making money with art is attention, and he’s soaking up attention like a sponge.

    Art as a whole is not a zero-sum game, however, and it’s entirely possible that Hirst is drawing persuadable individuals to art. Whether the reaction is due to anger or enjoyment, it’s probably good for the community.

  75. Putting aside the paper tigers of boring watercolors, or illustrators of Americana:

    Yes art should stir and people provoke thought.

    Goya’s work has very direct social commntary and criticism.

    Dada and surrealism were existential terrorist movements which were directly respond to specific social conditions(the world wars) and also were a protest a against the then stifling conventions of academic art.

    I will say it again. I enjoy much of the work that is produced under Damien Hirst’s name.



    in fact is HE IS THE VERY PEAK OF MAINSTREAM SUCCESS in the institutional Art world!

    The only reason that his work is controversial is because of the vast sums of money and resources that surround it.
    It is visually interesting
    It is not offensive.
    I don’t think anyone on this board has said they were offended by the content of the work.
    What is there to be offended by?
    It would be like being offended by a Faberge egg!

    Art always exists in a social context, and with the global disasters caused over the years by the concentration of wealth and power, i think it is very valid to mention those factors in reference to his products.

    When we look a Faberge egg now, we see not just the egg but a decadent, feeble-minded Czar who eventually got his comeuppance. You bet Anastasia cried in vain. Excessive concentration of wealth CAUSES violent death.

    The diamond encrusted skull is a just down payment on blood on the pavement.

  76. I don’t understand hating someone because you feel he’s achieved more success than his skillset deserves. Take, for instance, William Hung from American Idol, whose singing was internationally acclaimed as gawdawful. He toured, sold albums and did the talk show tour. In his (Warhollian) 15 minutes we presume that he was paid more money than his skills warrant. I’m delighted at that! ‘Cause if that dufus can achieve his American Dream, well, a bright guy like me can do even better! (These are my feelings, not that I think he’s really a dufus, or that I’m any brighter than he).
    Take courage when you see that someone you consider a dufus hits the big time, because you might be next! Nice knowing it could happen.

  77. Arkizzle, fsm’izzle

    UC, much of the Abstract movement was based on the denial of representation, stating that their work is what it is, not a represention of something else. All representation is not art, at least until it transcends its basic utility, a la the difference between Shephard Fairey’s Obama and the original AP photo representation.

    To ‘edify, amuse, entertain and enlighten’ seems to me to be a best expected outcome, however, artists by and large tend to get there by following their own instincts. Nothing wrong with sentiment, just that it tends to turn the work into something else.

    Largely, the issue is that there are many facets of art, and that art overlaps, but is not totally congruent with notions of aesthetic beauty. For example, flowers and sunsets are beautiful, but they are not art. You may hang a picture of a sunset in your house, or paint a picture of a flower, and they are at least artworks, if not art. The flower paintings of Van Gogh and Monet are now considered great works of art because they changed the rules, showing new ways of represention that went beyond the strictly figurative. That’s pretty accepted today, but in their time, they were considered scandalous at best by the mainstream, shocking their audiences and the establishment. (The Dadaists were far from the first movement to attack the establishment, that honor going to the Renaissance)

    Now, the extent that art ‘runs deeper’ than representation largely correlates to the sustained effect it has, both visually and intellectually. Like Hirst or not, his work has succesfully challenged viewers and BBers alike to ponder at length the extent that it is art, notwithstanding the role of commercialism in his work.

    On the other hand, pretty pictures are shallow in that there is not a lot that can be said about them other than ‘I like it–it makes me feel good.’ Nothing wrong with pretty pictures, just that they often exist for their own sake, not as part of the continuum of the canon of art. Everyone is always free to hang and enjoy whatever artworks they want on their own walls, but that’s a personal thing.

  78. A pleasant but not earth shattering piece of art.

    If someone wants to pay millions for it, that’s their business, not mine.

    More power to them both.

  79. I went to a gallery displaying artwork by a former hero of mine- Peter Maxx. There were some great works there. He is, to me, a pretty dang good graphic artist (at least, by the standards of his time). But there were a bunch of his oil paintings for sale- I remember a lot of still lifes of flowers. They were sloppy and crappy, as tho he was resting his chin on one hand and slapping at the canvas with an angry brush. As tho it is his signature that makes it a valuable piece of art, rather than the content, and indeed it is. Sad.

    1. Troofseeker,

      The artist is Peter Max. Peter Maxx would be a great name for a male porn star, though.

  80. @106 DWITTSF “On the other hand, pretty pictures are shallow in that there is not a lot that can be said about them other than ‘I like it–it makes me feel good.’ Nothing wrong with pretty pictures, just that they often exist for their own sake, not as part of the continuum of the canon of art.”

    While I’ll concede that it all comes down to personal preference, still, I have to disagree with this one.

    There’s plenty to be said even about a picture that is “merely” pretty, as long as you want to spend some time thinking about it. Sure, I get what you’re saying: some kinds of art are really nothing more than decoration. Scarcely more than *design*.

    But something that is truly sublime doesn’t need specially trained interpreters to say what needs to be said. It’s primal message, no matter how complex, is there to be apprehended by anyone and everyone. If an artist actually puts enough care and thought into his work to get his message across effectively, well then, what is left to be said that absolutely *must* be said?

    Works by artists like Hirst really aren’t challenging. Which isn’t to say they aren’t in any way pleasing. (A bag of Doritos can also be pleasing, but you’d be mad to just slap a fat price tag on it, make it really humongous and then attempt to pass it off as haute cuisine.) They don’t make me think anything other than, “There’s a new sucker born every minute.” Which is part of the reason they irk so many people. If you want to feel ripped off, there’s no need to trot down to the nearest museum: just read the politics section of your local paper.

    When I set aside some of my irreplaceable Life Time to visit a gallery, I don’t want to settle for something “experiential”. The world is bursting at the seams with experiences. I can find them pretty much anywhere. And if I want to stretch the definition of Art until it becomes meaningless, well, I don’t even have to get out of bed for that.

    What I want is that sense that someone, somewhere, really cares enough to Get It Right, to tease out the tough truths and use them to create something more complex, more dense with information, more well considered and balanced and startling than a Really Big Toy.

    When it comes to toys, by the way, I’m a huge fan of novelty and clever gimmicks. When it comes to the fine arts, generally speaking, I prefer something sublime.

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