July 19, 2024


Sublime Arts Bar None

Damien Hirst and the New Mental Disorder – On the Contemporary Art Market

Damien Hirst’s much touted compilation of agglomerated objects, ‘beautiful in my head forever’, a pretentious assembly of second-rate rubbish unusually commonplace in conception and void of any qualitative content, has now been consecrated art by the art-buying public, a no small feat! What a splendid accomplishment by the small but cunning ‘business intelligentsia’ masterminding what can now contemptuously be called the contemporary art scene. Thanks to a formidable campaign, to application and method, the art market has been made to believe that what we see here is art and that it’s worth money. The success reaped by these manipulating forces is total. The world is seeing and yet it doesn’t doubt a second. The mental leap is as giant and as unbelievable as the 9/11 scam. The Emperor’s-new-clothes-syndrome seems to be a human constituent. The manipulator’s war cry resounds over the still smoking battlefield: ‘if you want to get away with it, do it in the open for everyone to see’.

Are we then totally insane? Do we just need to be fed insanities to believe them? Does the so called art collector buying these items keep on believing when face to face and at home?

The Jeff Koons exhibition at Versailles shows the gravity of this state of affairs. Even without the auction-room environment, respectable people seem nowadays to think that anything goes, anything, be it to any sub-standard, be it just for the sake of celebrity, anything goes as long as it is sensational.

The professionals have thoroughly understood how to manipulate to maximum profit the exasperating mass of just-believing-anything ‘art collectors’ (i.e. evident idiots with money). In this role, Hirst is not even original but just faithfully following the examples of Duchamp and Warhol. Their simple working principle is: the more evidently stupid the creation, the more the perplexed parvenu art-collector will want it. In this commodity market, where the commodity has nothing to do with beauty nor sense, and not even with any particular interest, the only major and totally primordial role is taken up by hype.

The evident answer is that we are, in great majority, still not out of our minds. The surprising prices paid during the Sotheby’s event concerns an infinitesimal small portion of the art-buying public and the most striking revelation of this activity is the mind-boggling total amount of money these buyers must dispose of in order to spend such sums on crap. Even out of speculative reasons no one in his right mind will pay anything like that in the hope of finding another sucker on the short term. This is prestige and inner-circle show-off and nothing else.

However, the repercussions of such inflated sales events are reverberating down the ladder to reach and contaminate the common world. The most damaging consequence of this absurd circus is that art tends to be valued in celebrity terms. Neither scarcity nor quality will guarantee monetary value, only celebrity will.