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The Damien Hirst effect at the Pinault Foundation in 2017

Art & Business | Damien Hirst has taken over the Pinault Foundation’s Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana with his exhibition Treasures From The Wreck of the Unbelievable. Although the artist has deliberately reduced his presence on the international scene, the event has had a considerable impact on the art world’s communication sphere with the propagation of images on social media and abundant press reviews that range from fascination to criticism.

Damien Hirst, with “Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)” from his new show, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice © Credit Filippo Massellani for The New York Times
Damien Hirst, with “Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)” from his new show, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice
© Credit Filippo Massellani for The New York Times

The facts : after his retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2012 and the Relics exhibition at the Al Riwaq in Doha in 2013, Damien Hirst presents Treasures From The Wreck of the Unbelievable composed of 189 works that illustrate a narrative created by the artist, blurring the lines between fact and fiction. Going to and fro between hyper monumentality and the art object, the artist’s set of works summons collective memories with visions from the ancient Mediterranean, Asia and Africa, combined with pop culture and contemporary icons, creating a hybrid ensemble.

Hirst’s blockbuster show has been largely reviewed by the international press, whose critical arguments can be classified in diverse groups :
The French press has expressed a form of fascination, repeatedly using the semantic field of “beauty” and “greatness” in articles published by Le Point, Le Figaro / Madame Le Figaro. Le Point claimed that Hirst is still the first ! , while Les Echos considered that the real work of art is the gigashow as a whole. Le Figaro pointed out that on the exhibition’s preview close to 4,500 people visited the Palazzo Grassi while the Punta della Dogana drew 3,500 visitors; while Le Monde praised its “astonishing technical implementation”.

The African press focused on the accusations of plagiarism of a classic Nigerian sculpture Bronze Head from Ife, voiced by Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor.
The controversy was extensively covered by the English-speaking media such as the New York Times, CNN, Dailytrust and HuffPost; this was followed by an additional accusation of plagiarism relative to the Grenada Pavilion and Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater installations, which was covered by https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/damien-hirst-in-another-pickle-over-plagiarism-of-venice-exhibition-name-59vrblbmq The Times] and Artnet. The Guardian, which has often expressed perplexity towards Hirst’s work has had a more enthusiastic response this time.
Artnet’s Chinese version is based on a repetition of the language and pitch presented on the exhibition’s press file, as by most press articles.

Vincent Kozsilovics / Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 27/06/2017
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Version française

Damien Hirst, with “Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)” from his new show, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice © Credit Filippo Massellani for The New York Times

Damien Hirst, with “Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)” from his new show, “Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice
© Credit Filippo Massellani for The New York Times

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