Because he was in Hong Kong for his Gagosian opening, Alexandra Seno of SceneAsia asked Damien Hirst for his top five moments in contemporary art:
1. Jackson Pollock’s fling: “Jackson Pollock, throwing paint around, when paint left the brush for the first time in a Jackson Pollock painting.” The late American abstract-expressionist artist’s drip paintings revolutionized art in the 1950s.
2. Andy Warhol’s “America’s Most Wanted”: “When Andy Warhol made ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ The size was just huge, taking back from the media and making something enormous and showing the dark side.”
3. China’s arrival: “What’s been happening in China recently, the explosion of art. In China, they were putting art straight into auctions. It’s a whole different set-up. When I put my work direct into auction, it had already been done in China.”
4. Sarah Lucas’s “Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab” (1992): “Sarah Lucas, who is a contemporary of mine, made ‘Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab.’ It’s so unexpected. The art world is dominated by males and males have a view of women where they are reduced to objects. Sarah used a kebab like a sort of vagina and fried egg like breasts. It’s kind of like a male view of the female and it was interesting how she turned the tables.”
5. David Mach’s “Polaris”: In 1983, Scottish installation artist David Mach arranged 6,000 car tires in the shape of a Polaris submarine outside London’s Southbank Centre. It was a form of antinuclear protest, but a bystander disliked the installation and tried to burn it down, killing himself in the process. “When the guy set fire to himself trying to destroy David Mach’s sculpture of a nuclear submarine, it brought art to the attention of people,” says Mr. Hirst. “David made a sculpture about what he believed, in which was being ‘antinuclear,’ but someone else felt it was so offensive they set fire to it and it killed him. From every angle it is about people’s beliefs, with huge consequences.”
Art That Matters, According to Hirst (SceneAsia/Wall Street Journal)