The subjective nature of art and its expression can be hated, loved or worse, looked on ambivalently. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a recent exhibition in Venice has brought to bare much malice from the art critics community for a much loved artist. The artist Damien Hirst, a British contemporary artist, entrepreneur and collector touted to be the worlds wealthiest living artist has accrued some 215 million Pounds Stirling. Dominating the 90’s his popularity took a fall during the crash of 2008 and for the last ten years Hirst has been working on an exhibition to restore his lucrative career.
The exhibition housed in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice is the contents of a fabled 1st-2nd century shipwreck, containing over 300 pieces of collected sculptures in stone, marble, bronze and gold from a dedicated Roman merchant of the time. The exhibition is entitled ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ and contains both large and small pieces, one several stories high of a headless demon in bronze.
All these pieces were discovered after a small gold statue was pulled up by a fishing net of the coast of Africa. A Documentary was made of the discoveries and salvaging operation, which has just been recently released on Netflix and named as the exhibition.
The pieces have not been fully restored but rather enhanced by hand coloring each and every coral and growth on each piece, grown during the 2,000 years under the sea. The result is spectacular to say the least, but there is a catch…
The whole scenario is a ruse, a ‘mockumentary’ and uncovering of art designed specifically for the purpose of exhibition. It took Hirst ten years of work and cost him over $88 million pounds to create this deceit and he has been slammed for it. Some called it a betrayal of his art patrons and followers. Having seen it all I was not really surprised, many of the pieces looked too advanced for Roman times but what did surprise me was the quality and artistry of the pieces.
Do we forgive the artist for the deceit and then appreciate the art for what it is. Well apparently the exhibition was a flop. Go figure! The beauty of much of the work certainly connected with me, so take a look at the ‘mockumentary’ and decide for yourself. Was it worth the trouble and 88 million?
Tony DeLorger © 2018
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