Monday, October 26, 2009
Jonathan Jones is angry about Damien Hirst. Well, yes, the paintings are, indeed, poor. Nobody, however, seems to have commented on the way Hirst chose to disguise this fact. He treated the Wallace Collection show as an installation. He decorated two galleries with his own wallpaper and arranged the paintings so that we seem to be looking at rooms full of pictures rather than the pictures themselves. It's as if he's implying that somebody else did these paintings or that he did them and he feels he must signal some ironic distance to make it clear they don't really matter in themselves, only as part of a single, more general statement. It's a weird effect, made weirder when I was there by some smart art walker explaining the significance of the pictures to an evidently rich but dumb bloke. I felt sorry for Hirst for the first time. As Jones notes, the conceptual, anti-craft mania of the nineties is now pretty much dead and he's flailing around for the next big thing. I also went to the Frieze Art Fair and most of the conceptual stuff was just a bore, something that got in the way of the paintings, many of which were, in fact, superb and startlingly cheap - it's still the conceptual stuff that seems to attract the high prices. But photography is the thing. Taryn Simon is a marvellous artist. A picture of a ski lift which I can't find online made me catch my breath. Poor Damien has never managed that.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 2:06 pm