Peter Goddard slams Don Thompson’s book on Damien Hirst, Stuffed Shark at the Star, criticizing it for lack of depth, and identifying a largely inert genre of books “aiming to monetize our understanding of the market.” He takes a well deserved swipe at competitor Elizabeth Currid, for similarly providing little substance suggesting a general unwillingness to draw conclusions from the material presented as a problem. Of course, typically the reason writers fail to do this is because they don’t have a firm grasp on the material in the first place. Viewing art through the lens of capitalism and celebrity culture may make the profession easier to discuss, and accessible to lay person, but it distorts the field so significantly it’s becomes impossible to draw any conclusions about the art. Goddard says as much in his review;
Yet these books exist for a reason. And that’s to fill the vacuum left by the absence of credible critical discourse that might otherwise lead the reading public — and the potential art buying public — to understand the value of a work of art, without having to care if it’s worth as much as a Madison Ave. condo.
In another post-Hirst auction moment, Roberta Smith does what Roberta Smith does best, summarizing the hooplaw around the event, identifying the subject of Hirst’s art (the market), and the auction itself as one phenomenon of many signaling the disintegration of the art world. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to label a larger art market and Hirst’s Premium Art Line the beginning of the end, but she’s right to point out the combination of the two has resulted in a dumbed down client base.