Damien Hirst and the Unbelievable Wreck of the Art Market

At dinner this evening one of my partners told the story of last year's Damien Hirst mockumentary, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. It sounded like a great bit of entertainment and I just put it on my Netflix list. I looked at bits from the Venice exhibition when it was trashed by critics and was blown away by the elaborateness of it all.

I like Hirst for how he makes me think about art, which means I appreciate some of the criticism, too. I think Felix Salmon really nailed the Hirst phenomenon in his piece in the New Yorker in December: The False Narrative of Damien Hirst’s Rise and Fall.

I'm a cynic when it comes to the art "market", which for me is a toxic cocktail of conspicuous consumption and opaque, frequently fraudulent behavior. And so I love that Hirst unabashedly creates high quality work and sells it at ultra-luxury prices, even if I don't like the aesthetics of much of it. He's the ultimate direct-to-consumer brand in the segment and he's retained a punk rock attitude to building authentic product. More power to him.