In the early 1990's, Damien Hirst was from a group known as YBA (Young British Artists). He gained notoriety for his display of dead animals in formaldehyde. I ask, "Is this art?"
I was horrified when I first saw Hirst’s "art" in past issues of Art News. I wondered, "What could possibly be the artist’s message?"
Even if you don’t agree with his style of art, at least hear him out. Hirst is undeniably one of the most influential living artists. His controversial work draws the public into discussions about art.
I recently saw a Damien Hirst exhibit at the MFA in Boston, drawn from various collections. I found the lamb in formaldehyde shocking, even though I knew what to expect. Note: the lamb was said to have died from natural causes.
Hirst stated, "I’m having difficulties believing in art without believing in God." I agree with him on that note. He believes art, God, and love are connected. Again, I agree. The lamb in formaldehyde is seen by Hirst as a symbol of the sacrificed Christ. I’m not sure about that statement. Is the "Lamb of God" theme taken too far?
In the Catholic Church there is a prayer said before Communion, "Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us."
I actually did begin to understand the artist’s religious connection. I must say I was swept up in the excitement of seeing controversial art. Maybe the next exhibit would convince me of his talent.
"The Collector" illustrated life as opposed to death. It was an enclosed structure that exhibited live butterflies as well as an animatronic man. This was a very interesting and beautiful exhibit.
My faith in artists in general was again restored. I believe that we trust them to take us to a safe place where our minds and souls can be refreshed. I felt enlightened by Hirst’s depiction of death, then life and beauty. What is art, if it is not controversial?
You may enjoy reading an article, "Comparison Study: Sargent and Velázquez" comparing two paintings, one which is exhibited at the MFA in Boston.
Charles Saatchi has been a long time supporter of the YBA. Now you can get up close and personal with the artist's work with the book, "Damien Hirst: Pictures from the Saatchi Gallery: 28 Tablets." Available here from Amazon.com.
To research art market prices,you only need enter the artist's last name below: