A Minute With: Damien Hirst on hitting the "spot"

Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:56am EST
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By Jordan Riefe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Damien Hirst may have slowed down since bursting onto the scene as unofficial leader of the "Young British Artist" movement in the 1990s, but he remains one of the most divisive figures in the art world today.

His "For the Love of God" (2007), a skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds which sold for $100 million, and "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (1991), a dead shark floating in formaldehyde, have been both derided as stunts and heralded as groundbreaking.

Since 1986, Hirst also produced a series he calls "spot paintings" -- canvases featuring grids of dots of various colors and sizes.

Of the roughly 1,400 canvases, 300 will be on display from January 12 spanning the globe in 11 galleries run by U.S. art dealer Larry Gagosian. Roughly half are on loan from private dealers while the other half are for sale.

Hirst produced the paintings through his studio with the help of assistants but reportedly only painted five of them, causing some to question the integrity of the collection.

Recently, he agreed to answer questions from Reuters via email, discussing his process and taking on his detractors.

Q: What is behind this notion of dedicating all 11 Gagosian galleries to your spot paintings?

A: "I have been making spot paintings for almost 25 years and have gone down many different roads with them and have always wanted to do a show that told the story of this body of work. The show is a retrospective with loans from over 150 collectors from 20 different countries, but of course there are also some works for sale."   Continued...

<p>Damien Hirst's Controlled Substance Key Painting, 1994. REUTERS/Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates � Damien Hirst and Science Ltd/Courtesy Gagosian Gallery</p>