Brit art star Damien Hirst’s career could be compared to a roller coaster: there are momentous projects and bodies of work that take years to reach their peak, then come crashing down. But just in the nick of time, another one comes out! With spot painting hysteria at its peak, Hirst has hinted at his next project in a Reuters interview — and it involves monkeys.
The Reuters email Q&A mostly treads territory dreadfully familiar to art-worlders. Are the spot paintings real, even though Hirst didn’t paint them? Yes. Is it okay to have a factory of workers producing your pieces? Yes. But when it comes to the question of Hirst’s plans for the future, it becomes very interesting very quickly. Here is the artist’s response:
“I’m working on an idea to make some primate paintings and working with monkeys, and I’m working on some pie chart paintings, and an exhibition about sunken treasures. Not sure if any of them are great ideas but that’s what’s great about being an artist.”
Could Hirst be planning to test the old axiom that locking 100 monkeys with typewriters in a room for 100 years will produce the works of Shakespeare? Maybe Hirst’s monkeys could remake “Guernica,” but odds are they’re more likely to make something like his splatter paintings.
In a provocative question, Reuters asks what being the wealthiest living artist means to Hirst. His answer speaks to a certain disconnect from what happens to his work out in the world:
“I’ve always strived to be good in my own terms, not other people’s. I feel lucky to be able to do things I could only dream of as a child but the wealthiest living artist doesn’t sound like something great to have on my gravestone. It doesn’t say anything to me about the business of art. All I know is that if two people want something and they both have a lot of money then that thing is gonna sell for a lot of money and no one can control that.”
From his antics at the Gagosian spot painting preview to these lost-sounding replies, Hirst might currently be in the position of art-world jester, part manic, part tragic. Poor Damien
— Kyle Chayka