Carol Vogel announces that Damien Hirst will hold a simultaneous showing of 300 of his spot paintings in Gagosian’s 11 galleries around the world in early 2012. Many of the paintings will be loans with only half of them for sale.
The idea for the show is fitting considering Hirst’s previous claims that the spot paintings are all part of one large conceptual work without end. Indeed the first spot paintings were house paint on a white wall. Since then, the spots have taken many shapes, sizes and forms. That point is underscored by Vogel’s revelation that Hirst has assistants working on a truly gigantic spot painting that will take nine years to complete and contain 1 million minute colored spots. Whether that’s true or simply Hirstian hype doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is the issue of the title which purports to be the “complete” spot paintings. If the show is truly complete it will resolve one mystery of the Hirst market: no one seems to know how many spot paintings actually exist. Churned out by assistants, numbers have been bandied about as high as 1,000 canvases. With sale prices reaching into the millions, the complete spots would be an enormously valuable body of work. If 300 is the true number, prices might have to be revised—upward:
For Mr. Hirst’s next act every Gagosian Gallery around the world — 11 in all — will hold its own version of “Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011.” The show will open on the same, not yet determined day in every city — New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Athens, Geneva and Hong Kong — and run from mid-January through February 2012.
“I’ve tried to do it a few times,” Mr. Hirst said, referring to his idea of holding a “Spot” extravaganza. More than a decade ago, he said, there were plans for two places in London to present the show, Tate Britain and the Saatchi Gallery. But the plans never came to fruition. (A major retrospective of Mr. Hirst’s career, however, is planned for Tate Britain in April.)
Over the years, he said, he could not get the notion of doing a “Spot” show out of his mind. When he proposed it to Larry Gagosian recently, the dealer jumped.
Inside Art: A Hirst Extravaganza (New York Times)