There’s been a lot of sniffing and dismissing of the Hirst Spots-travaganza this last week. A sterling example comes from Forbes’s Abigail Esman:
Truth is, I can’t help but be reminded of my mother’s comment, when she, as the owner of a New York art gallery, first visited Hirst’s studio in London in 1988. “The guy can’t paint,” she said. But boy, can he sensationalize. Apparently, that’s enough.
Curiously, though, the spots have a remarkable attraction to a broader audience, according to the Wall Street Journal:
in Beverly Hills, a real happening was taking place with just a few cases of Sancerre and some Pellegrino. This was at the Gagosian Gallery, where the West Coast arm of Damian Hirst’s Spot Paintings was opening.
The place was jammed, spilling out on the street. Most of the paintings weren’t for sale.
As it turns out, Mr. Hirst’s Spot Paintings, ranging in size from tiny to ginormous, make excellent backgrounds for Facebook “I was here tonight” photos. So many guests were taking pictures of themselves in front of the artwork, certainly more than at your typical art opening.
And even a few, like the Independent’s Adrian Hamilton, are willing to be persuaded:
Given the terrible seriousness with which the gallery takes him, there is a terrible temptation to view it all as a Dadaist performance and to think that the one person who should have taken up the offer to visit every site should be the ghost of Jacques Tati, wandering the brightly light, cavernous spaces of white walls and spaced objects in a vision of the universality of a modern art without context, without place and without soul.
And yet it must also be said that visiting the two London galleries at least is a visual pleasure. Gagosian’s airy premises near King’s Cross has a fair selection of periods and types, as well as all his Controlled Substances, in which each of the pictures has an accompanying colour-coded key that reveals its title. The Davies Street gallery, meanwhile, has contrasted its single room on the smaller pictures from the 1990s in which a half, one or two spots painted in household gloss hold the canvas. However they reproduce on paper, faced as real paintings, they have a reality that is quite compulsive.
L.A. Story: Paintings, Ponies, Prizes (Wall Street Journal)
Still Dotty About Hirst (Indpendent)