Damien Hirst is the greatest living, and possibly the greatest ever, moneymaker-as-artist. MBA teachers get their students to analyse his business strategy . But what business is he in?
As I strolled through his new retrospective at London’s Tate Modern gallery, I identified four.
A striking number of young families come to see Hirst’s work. Unlike in the National Gallery, or even in the rest of Tate Modern, you don’t see parents at this show distracting their children with pieces of paper on which they have to tick off the number of cats they can see. Nor do you hear the kids asking how much longer they have to stay.
There is too much entertainment for that. They can watch a ping-pong ball suspended above a blowing hairdryer, or sniff a giant ashtray of discarded cigarettes (a smell once familiar; less so today), or let butterflies tickle their ears.
My first thought was that this placed Hirst in the line of great circus impresarios. But as visitors walked through the bisected cow and watched flies consume a severed animal’s head and immolate themselves, it struck me that Hirst is truer to the tradition of the Victorian freak show.
Sarah Kent, a critic who appears on the exhibition’s handheld video, said of Hirst’s display: “It works like advertising.”Page 1 of 4 | Next Page