"No Love Lost" and "The Blue Panitings"Damien Hirst Wallace Collection
"The worst of Hirst in his blue period" (Metro life, October 15th)
"Hirst pays £250.000 to revamp the Wallace Collection" (Evening standard, oct 13th)
The artist financed the refurbishment of two rooms where his works are exposed.
Will the British press burn their icon?
The Wallace Collection is one of the richest national museums in London, hosting a collection of exquisite European works, ceramics, paintings, furniture, sculptures.. This historic London town house once belonged to the third and fourth Marquesses of Hertford et Sir Richard Wallace, who collected these French 18th-century paintings. Among them can be seen the famous "swing" by Fragonard, which inspired YBA artist Jinka Shonibare for his Turner Prize 2005 installation, a self-portrait by Rembrandt and the poignant "Titus", portrait of the son of the artist, which particularly inspired Damien Hirst, wonderful "clair-obscur" of Hans Memling and Gerrit Dou, some plaques and Sèvres porcelain. If necessary, the outstanding quality collection by itself deserves the visit.
Damien Hirst suggested his own "Wallace Collection trail", selecting and briefly analysing 26 works through which - above the interest we can find in his comments - allows us to understand better the masters who inspired him since his early beginning. Follow the guide…
The ultimate consecration this Tycoon artist could dream of was definitely to measure himself to these Masters… He did it.
His 25 works, offset on a provisory sumptuous blue silk he offered to the Museum, are named (after another Master, Picasso) "The blue paintings series. Created between 2006 and 2008, they reflect his love for Art History and are as he says, "deeply connected to the past".
Choice of golden huge faux-vintage frames, classicism of his brushwork; the works, influenced by Gerhard Richter are mainly fed by the energy of Francis Bacon or Lucian Freud, unequalled though – particularly patent too in the choice of the architectural construction and the creation of two huge triptychs. Neither do they convey their emotional intensity nor they Boho style.
Above these obvious tributes to the above-mentioned Masters, he also seems to pay a tribute to himself, to his own works and themes. Every work is an allusion to his own creations, installations and tends to show the recurrence of his familiar subjects. The skull, the shark and less known the butterflies.
This exhibition shows a face of this artist, in a real opposition to what we generally expect from him.
It is again about money and marketing, the venue benefits from his generosity, and his extra exposure and the artist can exhibit alongside the Masters he covets. Will he ever back up this elevated position?
Does the "bad boy" repent and seek absolution? Some speak about a plea for sympathy. At least this show will allow us to the appreciation of his traditional draughtsmanship,
Egomaniac or genius, Future will tell …
London, november 2009
Damien Hirst Wallace Collection London
October 14 2009 - January 24 2010, free access, Bond Street station
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