Artists, Dealers, General
Marion Maneker0December 13, 2012

Hirst v. Gagosian: Who Blinked?


Georgina Adam deserves enormous credit for breaking today’s news that Damien Hirst and Gagosian Gallery have parted ways. The news will surely be read in many ways. Some will see this as a sign of Gagosian’s weakness, especially coming so quickly on heels of the Art Basel Miami Beach news that Jeff Koons will show with David Zwirner next year.

Here’s Gagosian’s statement from the Financial Times article:

“It has been a great honour to work with Damien over the last 17 years culminating with the worldwide showing of the Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 at all 11 Gagosian galleries this year . . . We wish him conti­nued success for the future.”

It is hard to see the Complete Spots show as anything but a signal that Hirst’s market had come to an end. The seeds of his market demise were surely sown in the Beautiful Inside My Head Forever sale of September 2008 but the Complete Spots were meant to be a market comeback. Indeed, the spot paintings had seemed a beguiling meta-work of endless canvases with its own mystique.

The art press played right into Hirst’s hands covering every publicity ploy the artist created with slavish intensity. Unfortunately, the 11 Spot shows seemed to deflate the Spots rather than apotheosize them. Seen together, the works appeared to be more gimmick than art.

Although Hirst showed the power of his popularity during London’s Olympic Summer with a record-setting Tate Modern retrospective, the Hirst market has seemed anything but solid. Could Gagosian be telling us something very important about the Hirst market here? Did he make a calculation about the cost of supporting Hirst’s market against the potential gain? Were sales of the Spot works disappointing? Hirst will continue to sell through White Cube. Does it now fall to Jay Jopling to support the market in partnership with the Mugrabi family? Or have they too quietly exited?

Hirst to Split with Gagosian Gallery (Financial Times)