Hirsts Spotted at Gagosian

by Will Brand on January 4, 2012 · 33 comments Opportunities

This is what the end looks like.

January's show at Gagosian – any Gagosian, all Gagosians – is Damien Hirst's spot paintings. All of them, loaned back from their owners, in a retrospective. Why? Because they can.

As you can see by Gagosian’s exhibition thumbnails above, there’s lots of variety here. In fact, it’s “a single exhibition in multiple locations”, chronicling the whole of Hirst’s creative range, “from the first spot on board that Hirst created in 1986; to the smallest spot painting comprising half a spot and measuring 1 x 1/2 inch (1996); to a monumental work comprising only four spots, each 60 inches in diameter; and up to the most recent spot painting completed in 2011 containing 25,781 spots that are each 1 millimeter in diameter, with no single color ever repeated.”

Big or small, old or new, impossibly boring or shockingly empty, they're all on view. The catalogue will include “a conversation between Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari”, along with essays by MoMA Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture Ann Temkin and art historian Robert Pincus-Witten (who, among many other accomplishments, coined the term “post-minimalism”).

There is, we recognize, a historical danger here. Someday, the record of this exhibition might be dug up by a young art historian, or perhaps a blogger like us, or perhaps some sort of future blogger who does things with brainwaves. They’ll see that there was a massive show spread across every location of the most successful gallery of the time, entirely comprised of one of the most successful artists of the time, and that it was supported by some of the most illustrious voices money could buy. So I’m going to lay this down, just to clarify, so that nobody from the future gets confused: we hate this shit. Everyone hates this shit. These spots reflect nothing about how we live, see, or think, they’re just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop.


Paul D'Amour January 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm

“So I’m going to lay this down, just to clarify, so that nobody from the future gets confused: we hate this shit. Everyone hates this shit. These spots reflect nothing about how we live, see, or think, they’re just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop.”

Maybe the best 3 sentences ever posted on this website!

Kristen January 8, 2012 at 10:36 pm

It is clear to me, we artists, art writers and critics, historians and some gallerists, are mad because we finally, after over 100 years, realize we are the ones who deconstructed art down to this ‘shit’. The good news is a corner has been turned (about 15 years ago) and art will rise up from this failure. The human evolution Modus Operandi is…. to be continued….

CHRISTOPHER January 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm

agreed – absolute lazy, tasteless, talentless SHIT!!!

Adam Zucker January 4, 2012 at 4:01 pm

The Mayan’s must have predicted this when they were creating their calendar…A terrible destroyer of culture from Western Civilization would reign supreme bringing on an epic end to all things worth living for. The end is near….

Adeaner January 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm

There’s a lot of work by Damien that I don’t like : mostly cause he’s a smart-ass.
I applaud him for being such a shrewd businessman and turning the religion of art on it’s ear now and then.
As for the dots – FANTASTIC !  Too cool !!

Holo Grampa January 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm


uni January 5, 2012 at 3:23 am

This is what bad economy looks like

Anonymous January 5, 2012 at 7:17 am

Has there been any investigation into the possibility that this is some type of front for a massive money laundering scam or is Saatchi’s media force field too impenetrable?

... January 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

go on

artarded January 6, 2012 at 11:15 pm

It’s a question awaiting answer. I don’t know that there’s much more to go on with, without any address.

I think it’s strange though that anyone would attribute the success of Damien Hirst’s work to his own salesmanship, when it’s widely asserted that the only way he ever got a shark suspended by what looks like monofilament into a glass case and the reception that followed, was due to media mogul Charles Saatchi’s investment.

Will Brand January 9, 2012 at 3:22 am

Whoever said illegal was the easy way out / couldn’t understand the mechanics / and the workings of the underworld.

artarded January 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

thanxxx will. would you please ask jigga man if he can get me into the cia?

Anonymous January 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

Finally some honesty about the expensive garbage-making machine these “top” artists have become. Please add Jeff Koons. If this is what art is, I would never have wanted to become an artist. This is about marketing, networking, sales, and manufacturing, all the while pandering to the 1%. A complete disconnect from the spiritual, or any penetrating vision of humanity. Thanks for being real — I had pretty much given up on reading art articles that are basically infatuated exclamation marks for the high prices mixed with phony “irony” about raking in the cash.

Anonymous January 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Gerhard Richter did squares in the 60s and the brilliant salesman Hirst made them round. Sure the shark in the tank was fun, but that was then. My feeling is artist like Hirst have the attitude of the outsider, but are spending their days cashing in. They may have started out good (like Jerry Lewis was actually funny once) but look at them now.

There is this incredulous amount of money for art because the economy bulging at the top and the wealthy literally don’t know what to do with their cash. They buy things to increase their prestige. It would be better if they discovered philanthropy. Their values are upside-down.

The successful artist today is far from being an outsider, he is now the complete insider, He becomes in essence, a hair dresser to the wealthy. He can appear haughty, but is a tool.

We see a similar effect of inflated wealth with politics — the GOP candidates want to show how they are regular people, but they are millionaires, ex-lobbyists, working for corporate interests, etc.

Hirst’s statements about his assistants painting better than himself, his goals about how many pieces of art he wants to create (comparing his output to Picasso) and the rank amateur execution and puerile taste demonstrated in his recent skull paintings, leave me empty. I get the irony, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. Perhpas I would enjoy it more, if so much cash wasn’t being flushed — money that could help someone eat.

Economic inflation seems to lead to inflation of art’s value and artist’s egos.

Adeaner January 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

haha another acolyte (smilarepa) gets turned on his ear . . . .

aaahhh the art of religion and it’s fundamentalists.

tiddlespossum January 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Hirst is just continuing to do what Warhol did, and what Koons copied. 

Meinwelt22 January 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

thank you 

Misplaced Modernist January 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Dear Will Brand, I think I love you.  Let’s be friends, mmkay? http://misplacedmodernist.tumblr.com/

Paul Behnke January 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm


Markjoycehome January 8, 2012 at 3:53 pm

He is the 1%

Cat Reid May 11, 2015 at 4:22 pm

In the USA, $500k/year puts you in the 1% in every state. Globally, $34k/year puts you in the 1%. Hirst is in the 0.00001%….

Dick Pountain January 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

The end truly is in sight now – a few weeks ago in the UK Guardian newspaper, Charles Saatchi wrote a column (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/02/saatchi-hideousness-art-world ) saying that the contemporary art scene was all shit, corrupted by Russian billionaire oligarch money. From Saatchi of all! Good post Mr Brand.

fccg65 January 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Just to correct the record: Some of us like Hirst.  A lot.  “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” was an *amazing* show.  There’s a reason it was a tremendous success, even though the art market in 2008 was in worse shape than the housing market.  It was beautiful, thought-provoking, and genuinely moving.  I expect the Gagosian show to score at least two out of these three.  Just assembling the collection is a monumental achievement, worthy of admiration.

Would I want to own a Hirst?  Probably not.  But if I win the lottery I would certainly consider donating one to a museum.

Valentin Diaconov January 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Look at it this way: There are no artworks in the world right now that can make exactly the same sense in all of Gagosian’s locations. This how “global art world” looks like – a series of dots that have no feeling, no logic and no message. Is it possible for all of us, from LA literati to Dubai moguls, to speak the same language? Why, yes – the spot paintings are this language. 

Lontok January 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Applaud your honestly.  Hmmm, surprised there isn’t an “Occupy Dots” movement in the works.  Now that would be a hoot at all the Gagosian Galleries… but then again that would just bring more media attention. Ahhh, the power of media.

Elisapritzker January 12, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Maybe they are self-portraits. These dots could be the amounts of pills that DH took from 1986 on. Who knows.

Brian January 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm

A lot of so-called ‘critics’ & other art observers thought that Warhol was producing garbage in the 1980s and look what is happening with that work today. I say Hirst’s dots are revelatory and beautiful. I wish I could afford to buy one. Everytime I get a chance to see them they get better and better. Pure color, pure genius! 

Jenny Ma January 13, 2012 at 2:12 am

I think it’s high time we make a Banksy-Signal

Will Brand January 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm

What do you mean by “so-called ‘critics'”? Critics are critics whether they’re right or wrong, and they’re wrong pretty often; look, for instance, at Hilton Kramer’s writing about Pollock, which was “wrong” in terms of history but nonetheless made lucid, compelling arguments that were important to the discourse. I don’t strip people of the term “artist” when they make work I don’t like, and I’d ask for the same courtesy. 

You’re free to like the paintings, though. Paddy and I were just talking yesterday about how some of the big dots are actually pretty fun to look at. What about them, though, is “revelatory’?

Jeremy January 14, 2012 at 3:06 am

Look up Thomas Downing. ‘Nuff said.

Dick Pountain January 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

> I wish I could afford to buy one

You can, all you need is a paintbox and you can do your own. Would it not be art?

Happyhoebie January 16, 2012 at 11:15 am

“they’re just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop.”

I’d say this reflects something quite revelatory about how we live.

Joyce DadeArtPhoto February 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I haven’t seen the show yet but, I am looking forward to the DH, NYC shows.  A confession now:  I love dots and have loved them since girlhood.  DH’s dot works, done by him or done by others (they could have been done by the man in the moon for all I care), I simply love the idea of them and the reality of them.  I love dots and, I think at some point, not only do most children love dots but those who are in touch with their inner child and or childish past.  His paintings are the best work he has ever done, in my opinion, all else is the “s” word.  I think the idea of showing across the world at all galleries is a genius idea and, it has proven to be such.  It lived up to the hype and, I haven’t even seen the work yet.  Too many grownups, too many experts, too many art world pundits and know it alls can’t touch this work or this show, it’s simply genius.  I heard DH speak on Charlie Rose (PBS TV) and it’s insightful. He’s an interesting character and surprisingly, I liked him and what he had to say.  You might check it out online.  Be a child again, bring your children, buy a dot pin but see the show for what it is (drug references aside) a joyous, beautiful installation of simplicity that is as stupid as a butterfly but just as welcome and just as lovely.  I’m busy these days but must get up to speed and see this show before it flies away like a swarm of butterflies, perhaps forever.  http://joycedade-photography.blogspot.com

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