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14.2.07

Save the Butterflies!

Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst, The Explosion - Exalted (2006, Gagosian Gallery)
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas (84 inches in diameter)

Bad boy British artist Damien Hirst's latest exhibit of butterfly paintings, Superstition, will open simultaneously at Gagosian Gallery, in London and also in L.A. These are real butterflies; the images are incredible. He was apparently inspired by stained glass windows: poor butterflies! See more images at supertouch.

8 comments:

roberta said...

This is just like Fred Tomaselli don't you think, who hasn't done butterflies to my knowledge but has got pills and feathers and leaves and all kinds of natural materials embedded in his resin and paint. Hirst's piece also reminds me of Romanian folk painting on dinner plates which also have a kind of starburst patterning. I'll bet you can buy butterflies through science lab supply places. I know an artist who buys fruit flies by the ounce and uses them in her works!

Mark said...

I have rag paper with butterflies embedded. I also thought of Tomaselli. The big difference is that Hirst's will sell out at $400,000.00 per.

libby said...

Dare I say it reminds me of mosaic trivets from the 1950s, although I do suspect that in person the materials and scale would not allow that comparison. It's just how the web image looks!

Mark said...

It dose look like grout, a nice picnic table. Lets go to L.A.

rb said...

I'd love to see these in person and in natural light, they seem more like Nabokovian mandalas than rose windows and you can't see iridescence and color shifts properly in a jpg

it's disturbing of course, as Hirst's things are

Mark said...

They're on canvas so I wonder how light plays off them. The varnish will shine but no translucence. We'll see.

Steve said...

Following up on the Tomaselli comments above: Before it's even opened, there's already a growing controversy in L.A. regarding Hirst's pending exhibition at Gagosian Gallery and the similarities between Hirst's work (supertouchblog.com/?p=2431) and that of L.A.-based artist Lori Precious (www.loriprecious.com/images/sculpture.html), whose almost identical pieces have been in museums and galleries from London to New York to L.A. for more than ten years, including a one-woman show back in the Nineties. Compared the two sites mentioned above. I realize "appropriation" is the vogue in contemporary culture, but more than almost any other recent instance this raises the question of when something stops being appropriation and becomes, well, something else. Hirst uses the exact same material (butterfly wings), wedded to the exact same idea (recreations of stained-glass windows) and the exact same form (mandala) — all to the exact same end as Precious' work. (Precious, by all accounts, uses butterflies that have already died.) There was a posting about this yesterday at Coagula, one of L.A.'s more prominent art sites (coagula.livejournal.com), and reportedly the Los Angeles Times is considering a follow-up story to one that ran this past weekend. This is not the first time questions have been raised about the "originality" and "authenticity" of Hirst's work, including his famous shark piece, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living," which "borrowed" heavily from a very similar piece by Eddie Saunders done years before.

Mark said...

Steve, I'll give him a pass on the Precious connection. She used butterflies, but the works are different enough. The mandala image is also a hot item now, Ryan McGuinness's latest at the Armory Show reminded me of Hirst. I don't want to let Hirst off the hook either, he borrows heavily and has a staff of workers producing his ideas. That's acceptable practice although I prefer hand made by the artist.