As far the current Damien Hirst exhibition goes, I certainly cannot say it better than the great critics and art historians of our time who have recently reviewed The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011. It is Roberta Smith who sums this epic mélange of works best, “On one level, the Hirst à Gogo is a blatant promotion of both the Hirst and Gagosian brands, and a sitting-duck symbol of the end-time, we’re-doing-this-because-we-can decadence that has subsumed so much of the art world — yet another instance of money celebrating itself.”
Smith continues this assessment in her New York Times, Art Section cover story “Globally Dotting his ‘I’, divesting her sentiment with a balance of humor and critical regard. For me, the most compelling aspect of this exhibition, beyond the obvious scale and provenance of both Hirst and Gagosian’s presentation is “The Complete Spot Challenge”. Testing art enthusiasts with the means to travel, presenting a glimmer of hope for those of us who dream of one day owning an original Hirst, (without the threat of a formaldehyde scented living room) Gagosian and Hirst puts the experience in the hands of the visitor- contemporary art meets contemporary marketing.
The rules are as follows, a visitor obtains stamp card via the Gagosian website http://www.gagosian.com/spotchallenge or at one of Gagosian’s locations (there are eleven, so have your frequent flier card ready). If the Spot challenger visits each Hirst exhibition covering 8 cities on 3 continents, (a small feat for the causal art enthusiast) before March 18th 2012, they will receive a signed ‘Spot’ print by Hirst dedicated to you personally. Although few will achieve the final prize, it’s an act that says the art lover has not been forgotten. In the context of a high art treasure hunt, it is enjoyable to see artists engaging the public in an accessible way- the truth is probably that only the people who can afford to buy Hirst originals will have the means to collect their “free” art, but the sentiment is that it is out there- you just have to get it.
For more information, visit Gagosian Gallery.
Kathleen Rapp is the Assistant Project Manager on the EXPO CHICAGO team.