Friday, March 19, 2010

The Living Daylights

                                                                  A man is laughing
With his jaw
But the jaw
Is cracking
Along the fissures
He is laughing
But the laughter is decaying
His teeth are grinning
But the laugh is dying
The jaw is creaking
On its hinges
It's true
On the gallows
No joke is wasted


Ed Baker said...

"..if sold, Mr. Hirst’s skull will be the most expensive new work of art ever made.

Now that’s the stuff of headlines.

It is no secret that the art market has become drunk with money lately, with major auctions routinely raising record prices for artists old and new. Never before have contemporary artists, from London to Leipzig, New York to Shanghai, been at the center of such speculative fever.

But $100 million for a diamond skull that cost $23.6 million (£12 million) to make? Even Russian oligarchs and hedge-fund billionaires might think twice. The work, by the way, is called “For the Love of God.” Indeed.

Still, along with chutzpah, it shows that Mr. Hirst is a shining symbol of our times, a man who perhaps more than any artist since Andy Warhol has used marketing to turn his fertile imagination into an extraordinary business. And as the natural leader of a group that came to be known as the Young British Artists, or Y.B.A.’s, who emerged here in the 1990s, he has paved the way for many others.

He made his name by pickling sharks, cows, sheep and the like, but his real achievement was to break the power of London’s traditional galleries. Initially sponsored by the dealer and collector Charles Saatchi, himself a former advertising magnate, Mr. Hirst soon became an art entrepreneur in his own right. And having created his brand, he found he could sell almost anything.

Now 42, he still pickles animals in formaldehyde, but he also sells spin paintings, enlarged anatomical figures, pharmaceutical products displayed in cupboards, butterfly collages and, in White Cube’s current “Beyond Belief” show, which includes the diamond skull, paintings of the birth of his son through Caesarean section and large oils of malignant tumors.

Apart from their salability and the fact that many of these works are made by Mr. Hirst’s studio assistants (or his jewelers), what they have in common, White Cube tells us, is his exploration of “the fundamental themes of human existence — life, death, truth, love, immortality and art itself.”

Thus “For the Love of God” is presented in the tradition of memento mori — those skulls placed in classical paintings to remind us of what lies ahead — and as a homage to the Aztecs (Mr. Hirst now spends part of every year in Mexico), who attached precious stones to skulls and even made entire skulls with crystal.

In other words, Mr. Hirst’s piece is packaged as a concept.

It is also an object. Seen under a single spotlight in a darkened room of White Cube’s Mayfair gallery, the skull is entirely covered with small diamonds, including the nostrils, while one mega-diamond, weighing 52.40 carats, sits on its forehead.

We are told that the skull belonged to a European who died at about 35, sometime between 1720 and 1810. His cranium — or rather its platinum cast — now sparkles like a strobe ball in a disco.

Is it beautiful? Compared with what? Like the crown jewels, it is what it is: a highly skilled exercise in extravagance. Knowing its asking price adds to its wow factor: imagine opening a suitcase with a $100 million worth of bills. Wow!

And talking (again) of money, White Cube says that three or four collectors have shown interest in acquiring the skull. And one, according to British news media reports, is the pop singer George Michael.

But those who lack resources or security guards have not been forgotten: Mr. Hirst is offering limited editions of silkscreen prints of it, costing from $2,000 to $20,000. (The most expensive 250 prints are sprinkled with diamond dust.)

Well, clearly museums that are reduced to selling postcards, T-shirts and coffee mugs of Renaissance masterpieces have something to learn.

But in fairness, Mr. Hirst is just playing the game. It is a game played by collectors and dealers at art fairs throughout the year; it is a game finessed as never before by Sotheby’s and Christie’s; it is a game in which, in the words of Nick Cohen, a rare British journalist to trash Mr. Hirst’s publicity coup, “the price tag is the art.”

Phanero Noemikon said...

death is a diamond
whose transparency
is black

bleak parents
the right to

and the schools
where skulls comingle
sparkle yet

is dead

but the stain
of its dye
like landguage

did your
dim the stigmata

dirigible digits
can be manned
by such


Ed Baker said...

Hey Guys and Dolls..

Curtis' blog said I had to get down to no more than the allowed 4400 characters limit..

so I kept cutting and cutting until I got to the allowable limit..

afraid I cut off the credit as to who wrote this article in the NY TIMES:

I don't write anything like thaT.. have not the disposition OR the need for a job!

Gawd, I'd better be careful I could get sued! or worst, have to pay for using this like Time Warner almost did over my use of Ut's photo in a piece that I did..

Nic loved it... Time Warner, who owns it< wanted a fee and all moneies forever made from it.. I hollered:

I also think that this guy who did the skull also pickles Horse Shit and sells it...

Ed Baker said...


here is that Nic Ut photo that Time warner owns..
and since I don't/ain't selling it and
am only (Iswear) using it in my piece for educational only purposes..
I am "in the clear":

last I heard.. the girl in the photo now a woman and helping (still) VN children and etc who ore still suffering the effects of ...

she is, last I heard in Canada doing what she can..

Nic's (and three other specific photos (of reality) changed my life!

J said...

Quite a beautifully wicked work of Ahht that is, but yes price a bit inflated--then Pollock's drippy paintings go for what 120 million or so. At least the Feds should tax the bejeezuss out of it (like a "Geffen tax")

Stalin suggested some solutions for the Ahht-aristocracy. Then,so did nazis