Wednesday, October 14

Damien Hirst Is A Famous YBA

Today’s Image
My Plumbing Installation

Let me be the first to admit that I am not an art critic. No surprise. Oh, I have my opinions just like everyone else (and you know the old joke about what opinions are like). I’m telling you this up front, so you don’t think I’m trying to be one.

I do, though, wonder exactly how one gets to be an art critic. I don’t think there’s Art Critic School, although I’m guessing the people who do it for a living must have had some kind of a dual major in college like Art History and Journalism (or whatever they call that now—digital communication?). Or maybe they just really like art and started blogging. Whatever.

Do you keep up with what's going on in the art world? By that I mean, do you read the art section of your local newspaper or the art section in one of the papers in art centers, such as New York or Paris? Do you go online and search for art reviews or look for exhibits or other art happenings in the world?

If you do keep up, you, no doubt, must have heard or read about Damien Hirst.

Not being part of the "art-arazzi," I had never heard of him. When I began to focus on art as an interest in life, I then would notice his name in online articles about art or artists. Usually the articles were about one of Hirst’s out-of-the-ordinary and, how shall I say, unique art exhibits. And a lot of the time, they weren’t even called exhibits but rather installations.

Whenever his name was mentioned, I remember reading that he was grouped with some other artists from the United Kingdom called Young British Artists (YBAs). Of course, I had to look that up, and in Wikipedia, it said that name came from an exhibit called YBAs at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 1992. It says they were known for using shock tactics in their art and wild-living.

Anyhow, Damien Hirst became very famous for his unique art. In Wikipedia, there is also a photo of one of his installations--a shark swimming in a huge aquarium—not a painting of a shark in an aquarium—but a very real looking shark in an aquarium.

Last year I visited my local art museum, which I try to do whenever there is a worthwhile exhibit or at least once a year. I’m fortunate to live near the very fine Museum of Fine Arts Houston or simply MFAH. It was there that I ran across, quite unexpectedly, one of Hirst’s installations, End Game.

You’ve probably never been to MFAH, but if you ever go, you’ll enjoy its breadth, including the several buildings that house all of its art holdings and the labyrinth of tunnels connecting them. As you emerge from one of the tunnels, you almost run into several very industrial-looking glass-and-steel cabinets. The cabinets are starkly lit with bright blu-ish fluorescent lighting. You couldn’t miss them if you tried.

Inside were all kinds of medical paraphenalia and gadgets, a lot of it looked not very new. There were all kinds of things and probes and I don’t know what-all. All of this alongside a two full skeletons hanging on racks, which I’m guessing were used in classrooms or laboratories. As I said, brightly lit with an eerie blu-ish cast.

Why am I blogging about this today? I read a news release about a gallery opening in London of Damien Hirst’s recent paintings, and that made me think his installation at MFAH.

Unfortunately, the reviews are not very complimentary, and Hirst is not as young anymore, but with artists like him, I guess that’s what keeps the art world interesting. (Today's Image is My Plumbing Installation, which was an expensive installation recently installed in my studio.)


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