September 10, 2010

why we love Damien Hirst

It's a universal problem.  You're chilling late at night, wondering what kind of flare you could hit your new, white Range Rover with that would convey the sophistication of contemporary art connoisseurship while at the same time letting everyone know you are a baller with mad stacks back at the crib.  And if only there was some way to acquire this magical car bling on your iphone, while sitting on the couch watching tv at 1 o'clock in the morning.  Well fret no longer, because Damien Hirst has got you covered.

Nobody makes a more luxurious and decadent designer art object than Damien Hirst.  Recent favorites of ours have included his "New Religion" cashmere throw blanket and his silver "Pill Cufflinks".  With the unveiling of the new "4x4 Stainless Steel Wheel Cover", Hirst is moving into new territory, declaring that these ultimate consumption / art items are no longer to be relegated to the confines of one's home.  They are meant to be utilized and flaunted in public.  Art is the new bling.

Paving the way into uncharted marketing opportunities is nothing new for Damien Hirst.  With his 2008 exhibition Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, Hirst redefined the artist's relationship with the art gallery, the art dealer, and the auction market.  Bypassing the tradition of exhibiting new work in a gallery, Hirst realized that he could instead partner with an auction house and stage the exhibition there as a run up to his auctioning off of the work.  Cynics said that by cutting the gallery and the dealer out of the equation, Hirst exercised control over the entire process from creation to sale, and maximized his profitability.  This is true, but the real benefit of this action for Hirst was that it broke his art free of the exclusive, secretive, private confines of the established gallery system.  You no longer need an "in" with a powerful art world mover-and-shaker to buy the first tier of Hirst's output; you simply need tons of cash and a phone.

Hirst has been seeking out well-heeled collectors through the internet as well.  Other Criteria, the gallery that Hirst created to sell his (and some other artist's) work, and their website has long been the place to go for non-editioned Hirst multiples, books, tshirts, and tchotchkes.  Over the past two years it has been offering more (not to mention pricier) editioned works of art and occasional unique pieces as well.  Current fare on the site ranges in price from £1 for a postcard of to £140,000 (which is roughly $215,000 usd) for a complete set of recent foil block prints.  Aiming for consumers at the top and the bottom of the art market simultaneously requires cunning, skill, and a little bit of madness, and this is why we love Damien Hirst.

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