That’s not a pun or a play on words. Richard Lacayo profiles Damien Hirst in Time Magazine and it made the cover in the UK. Here are some highlights:
But Hirst’s career always threatens to amount to a core of genuine invention surrounded by a vast penumbra of middling merchandise. In all likelihood the huge Sotheby’s sale will be another milestone in his financial victory march. But it may also be a terminus, a house-cleaning by a man overtaken by his own success. Hirst has been thinking out loud lately about finding some new directions. For one thing, he says he’s going to quit doing the spin and butterfly paintings, and slow down the production of animals in vitrines. He’s said this before, but this time he seems to mean it. In June he turned 43 — an age, he says, when “you start thinking you’re going to need something else. Something more personal and quieter and darker.”
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In time, Dunphy would take all of the wayward boy’s business affairs in hand, not least renegotiating Hirst’s split with dealers. Dunphy says Hirst’s galleries now accept an arrangement that gives the artist as much as 70% of the sale price, instead of the standard 50%. But even with that advantageous formula, an auction in which Hirst reaps almost all the profits, while merely covering some sundry costs, was too much to resist. He’ll still work with dealers, says Dunphy. But “Damien’s far enough up the greasy pole now to be his own man.”
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For the last couple of years Hirst has also been painting again — actually painting, as in the kind of pictures an artist produces with his own hand, not through assistants — and always with a sense of Bacon looking over his shoulder. If he continues to go this route it’s a big risk. He’s given no evidence up to now that he knows what to do with a brush, and there are plenty of people waiting for him to fall on his face.
So far he hasn’t exhibited any of these pictures, but I saw transparencies of some of them in London — figurative work in a dark Bacon-ish key. He’s still finding out what kind of painter he is. He’s even begun to think of his mass-produced paintings as a means he used to avoid becoming a painter of another kind. “The spot paintings, the spin paintings,” he says, “they’re all a mechanical way to avoid the actual guy in a room, myself, with a blank canvas.”