Damien Hirst says crisis will stimulate artists

Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:26am EDT
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By Sergei Karazy

KIEV (Reuters Life!) - The global financial crisis is not such a bad thing if you are an artist, according to multi-millionaire British artist Damien Hirst.

Hirst, interviewed by Reuters as the biggest ever exhibition of his works opens in Ukraine, said those in the arts world were not motivated by profit, though they can certainly put money to good use.

"I think for artists, it's always easier to make art in bad times, sadly. It's a lot more difficult than when times are good to make art," Hirst said.

"People are not buying art in the way that they were. But maybe that's a good thing. The reason why you make art is not financial... It's not about how much something is worth or how much it costs, it's about whether it's good or not."

Hirst's exhibit in Kiev, entitled Requiem, has more than 100 works produced between 1990 to 2008 and is on display at a gallery owned by Ukrainian industrial magnate Viktor Pinchuk.

It includes his world-famous pickled sharks, the corpse of a cow suspended from a rope, its entrails lying beneath it alongside banknotes, and the severed head of a cow covered in live, buzzing flies.

The focal point of the exhibition, as the painter turns back to painting from sculpture, are a series of skulls.

A diamond-encrusted skull by Hirst fetched $100 million in 2007, but it was a private transaction and the fact that Hirst was part of the group of investors who bought it raised questions about its true value.   Continued...

<p>British artist Damien Hirst poses next to one of his works in Kiev April 23, 2009. An exhibition of more than 100 of Hirst's works from 1990 to 2008, the largest such presentation ever assembled, is on display at a Kiev gallery until September. REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin</p>