When Artists Head Straight to Auction: The Damien Hirst Question
By Emily Waldorf
Damien Hirst is single handedly causing an art market revolution with his decision to bypass his blue-chip dealers, Larry Gagosian and Jay Jopling, and sell 200 works directly through a dedicated mid-September sale at Sotheby’s New Bond Street location in London. The web site Art Observed cites Sotheby’s spokesman Oliver Barker on Hirst’s latest blockbuster tactic: “Damien is totally fearless. He’s not just an outstanding artist; he’s a cultural phenomenon.”
This is the first time that a contemporary artist has ever brought their work straight to auction and signals a potential shift in the hierarchical relationship of galleries, artists, and auction houses. The sale is estimated to bring in $100 – 200 million and includes many of Hirst’s signature works such as spin paintings, skulls, pickled animals, butterflies, and technicolor dots. One of the star lots is a cow with gold hoofs and horns (pictured).
Melik Kaylan explains the reasoning behind Hirst’s decision in his Wall Street Journal piece: “Dealers have always offered clients a higher degree of discretion than the public space of an auction ever can. That has traditionally been their great asset. But let’s be candid: Nobody in Dubai or Shanghai wants a pickled cow to gaze at musingly in solitude for the sheer beauty of its hindquarters. When today’s clients buy such wares, privacy is the last thing on their minds. They are buying into celebrity. As Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum, once said: ‘Social climbing and art have gone together since Alexander brought Lysippas to his court, and before’.” It would seem as though Damien is making a social commentary out of his marketing ploy.
Watch Sotheby’s Private View video covering the Hirst sale with Cheyenne Westphal, Chairman of Contemporary Art, Europe and Oliver Barker, Senior International Specialist
Filed under: art market, auctions, celebs, collecting, contemporary art, London, Uncategorized | 30 Comments
Tags: Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, Damien Hirst, Golden Calf, Jay Jopling, Melik Kaylan, Oliver Barker