Damien Hirst told us he was stopping Spin and Butterfly paintings. He said he was going to paint his own work again. But Simon Hoggart went to a book party at the Royal Academy and was confronted with some Hirstian dead animals:
I know little about art, and I don’t even know what I like. But I sometimes wonder if we are too frightened of saying outright that we can’t stand something. These thoughts came to mind on Tuesday when I went to the launch of Benedict Gummer’s book about the Black Death. The launch was held in a gallery behind the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, London, and on the walls were displayed the latest treasure by Damien Hirst, entitled The Ten Plagues. This consists of 10 absolutely identical canvases, each around a metre square, each with a hole in the middle roughly the diameter of a tea mug. They are jet black and at first glance look as if someone had spilled ink over Astroturf. As the room warmed up they emitted a faint but noticeable pong, which was not surprising, because when you looked closely each one was composed of thousands, possibly millions, of dead flies.
“Bloody hell, he must have quite a fly paper at home,” said one guest. Other theories were that he went round butchers’ shops, collecting the remains from their zappers. Or kept a few small animal corpses in the garden, and harvested them daily. Actually I like a lot of Hirst’s work, including the larger dead animals, so I’m not being biased or deliberately philistine when I say I thought they were absolutely awful.
A Plague on Hirst’s Latest Art Concept (Guardian)