The controversy over the Damien Hirst show at the Wallace Collection just won’t die. Universally panned by critics but well-attended by the public, Hirst’s foray into painting has caused a huge ruckus even though the paintings were shown months ago in the Ukraine. Jonathan Jones, the Guardian’s art critic, explains why:
It is shocking to see an artist so successful in arguing that art owes nothing to its past, sacrifice himself to that past. Hirst’s exhibition is a stupefying admission of defeat, a self-obliterating homage, that reveals the most successful artist of our time to be a tiny talent, with less to offer than even the most obscure Victorian painter in the Wallace Collection, let alone its Fragonards and Rembrandts. He reveals this because he chooses to meet them on their own terms, as a painter. […] He can’t do that at all; can’t paint his way out of a paper bag. But don’t kid yourselves. It is not just Hirst who is implicated in this exposure. It is an entire idea of art that triumphed in the 1990s and still dominates our culture – an entire age of the readymade stands accused by its own creator of being a charade. No critic has even come close to the total dismissal of 21st-century art implied by Hirst’s turnabout. This call to order leaves me dumbfounded.
What’s Damien Hirst Really Up To? (Jonathan Jones/Guardian)