Revealing Damien Hirst Catalogue Raisonné
The recent announcement by the publishing arm of Damien Hirst’s company Science Limited, Other Criteria, that a catalogue raisonné will be published in fall 2013 has caused a frenzy in the contemporary art market. The catalogue will provide details of all of his spot paintings, and as a result has invoked some panic amongst owners who could be in for a shock as to the authorship of their purchase.
Hirst is of course one of the most successful contemporary artists of his generation. In his second year at Goldsmith College in London he curated Freeze where the ‘Pharmanceutical’ spot paintings were first shown and for which he became well known. Well over a thousand other spot paintings went on to be created. What is not clear, however, is exactly how many were painted by Hirst himself and how many by his assistants. The announcement of the catalogue raisonné implies that this mystery could soon be solved.
It seems that the owners of some of Hirst’s spot paintings may be in a similar position to that of the proud owners of some paintings by Salvador Dali. It is now well known that many works sold as original Dali’s were in fact painted by assistants and simply signed by him. Whilst Dali’s death means the authenticity of some of his paintings may never be known, Hirst is still alive and kicking to confirm or deny.
The imminent publication of the catalogue has raised a whole host of questions, such as what will happen to the market value of the paintings which were in fact not created by Hirst but by his assistants.
Hirst has never hidden the fact that the majority of the spot paintings were actually created by his assistants. He has said that what is important is the work of art itself, and its intrinsic aesthetic value, as opposed to who actually created it. However, unsurprisingly, not all of the owners of the spot paintings will hold the same point of view. One of the spot paintings was purchased for $3.4 million and his complete show, ‘Beautiful Inside my Head Forever’ smashed all records and sold for $198 million. Many buyers of these paintings bought them as an investment due to their high market value at the time, rather than perhaps for their artistic worth.
Those who do not want to take the risk of investing in an original spot painting until the publication of the catalogué raisonné can purchase limited edition signed prints available in the Gallery Art Republic, in Soho, London. In the meantime, Science Limited has also announced that Hirst is working on a spot painting with a million spots that is will take a number of years to complete.
by Anne Ivers