Damien Hirst shocked the art world this month by hosting his very own Auction Beautiful Inside my Head Forever at Sothebys. Cutting out the middle man the artist was able to make over $200M, making him the richest living artist in the world. Of Hirst’s $200M, $17M was generated by his shark piece entitled, The Kingdom. This […]
Damien Hirst shocked the art world this month by hosting his very own Auction Beautiful Inside my Head Forever at Sothebys. Cutting out the middle man the artist was able to make over $200M, making him the richest living artist in the world. Of Hirst’s $200M, $17M was generated by his shark piece entitled, The Kingdom.
This Tiger Shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) has been preserved and suspended in a tank filled with a formaldehyde solution. The Kingdom ended up beating appraisals by 50% making it one of the more expensive art works in recent time. Interestingly, this shark was originally purchased for only $200 by an Australian “Shark Hunter”
In 1992 Hirst sold The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. This intimidating piece has a 14ft Tiger Shark preserved in formaldehyde in the same fashion as The Kingdom. Apparently the first preservation did not completely due the trick. In 2006 the Shark was replaced by a similar specimen due to deterioration. This piece was sold to Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager Steven A. Cohen for $8M and is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
As you would guess, these works have not gone unnoticed or without criticism.
The stuckisms of Charles Thomson and Billy Childish reacted to Hirst’s first shark sale by presenting A Dead Shark isn’t Art at the Stuckism International Gallery in 2003. This work showed a shark that was previously on display in 2001 at Eddie Saunder’s shop JD Eletrical Supplies. Charles Thomson is quoted as posing the following question:
“If Hirst’s shark is recognised as great art, then how come Eddie’s, which was on exhibition for two years beforehand, isn’t? Do we perhaps have here an undiscovered artist of genius, who got there first, or is it that a dead shark isn’t art at all?”
Thomson isn’t the only one to speak out. This year art critic Robert Hughes labeled The Kingdom:
“The world’s most over-rated marine organism”
I do find Damien Hirst’s work intriguing and bold, but I am not sure how I feel on the use of the animals. Hirst has a continual theme of death, and I hope this does not further the myth of man eating sharks. I can’t help but think, if these are such significant modern works what better platform to educate the public on the current state of our Oceans? If a paltry $17M was raised by his latest Shark piece, is any of that going to Marine Conservation groups?
We have a different perspective than most. A friend said to me he could see these works as a preservation to show this amazing animal to the public and future generations. I am not sure that is what or how these two works speak to me. They’re yelling something loud. Very loud. I just can’t quite decipher it yet.