I know I pick on Damien Hirst a lot and I make no apologies for that. He makes a lot of dumb news that get him a lot of dumb pats on the back from the art world. Such a picture needs balancing.
The latest news? Viking Penguin is publishing a Hirst autobiography and his ever-ready marketing machine is busy hyping it as an expose of the “filthy money business” of the art world. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first book about himself and he’s not out of his 40s yet. The first book “I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now” came out only nine years ago.
The forthcoming tome is said to be about his early life, although Hirst says he can’t remember most of it. No matter. It’s hard to say with any certainly that Hirst actually pens his books. A ghost writer will help tell his story. No surprise there. Teams of assistants (ghost artists?) help Hirst make his art, too.
Lately lauded for “spot paintings” - 1,365 machine-like dot paintings, all effectively the same - are made by Hirst’s staff. Unfazed by that, New York’s celebrated Gagosian Gallery not only showed the spot paintings in New York, but also simultaneously in each of Gagosian Gallery’s eleven locations in London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong.
When asked about all the assistants who make his spot paintings, Hirst famously said, “Every single spot painting contains my eye, my hand, and my heart."
Clearly, the things that Hirst says for print are way more memorable than what his hired hands paint for him. For that reason alone, the new autobiography should be a page-turner. One unforgettable quote from the past went like this: “I think suicide is the most perfect thing you can do in life.”
But topping my hit parade of Hirst bon mots is when he admitted that his dot pictures "are all a mechanical way to avoid the actual guy in a room, myself, with a blank canvas."
Ain’t it the truth!