Friday, September 16, 2011


Seeing spots
Gagosian plans Hirst catalogue and major multi-venue exhibition

By Cristina Ruiz From issue 227, September 2011
Published online 1 Sep 11 (Market)

The Gagosian Gallery has announced that it is to publish a catalogue of every spot painting produced to date by Damien Hirst. The publication, which is being produced in collaboration with Hirst’s publishing company Other Criteria, will coincide with an exhibition of spot paintings opening on 12 January in all 11 Gagosian gallery branches around the world.

The publication is described as a “fully illustrated, complete and definitive reference to all spot paintings made by Hirst from 1986 to the present”. Its appearance will solve one of the enduring mysteries of the contemporary art market: just how many spots has Hirst painted in the past 25 years? Although he has repeatedly stated his intention to abandon the series, he continues to produce spot paintings. Several dealers and auction house sources familiar with the Hirst market say they believe that “several thousand” have been produced.

The spots seem to defy the normal rules of supply and demand: the more Hirst makes, the more marketable they become. “Everyone wants what everyone else has,” said London dealer Kenny Schachter, who sells Hirst on the secondary market. The spots are now selling in locations across the world, including the Gulf states and Asia. “If there were fewer, they would be less desirable,” Schachter said.

Dealers say that most collectors prefer Hirst’s earlier spot paintings. At auction the highest prices paid for spot works has been for those from 1998, 1993 and 1994. The highest price was £1.8m for a 1998 huge work with a title to match: 3 -(5-chloro-2-hydroxphenylazo)- 4, 5-dihydroxy-2, 7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid, which hung for five years in a New York restaurant.

The Gagosian exhibition will run for six weeks in the gallery’s branches in New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Athens, Geneva, and Hong Kong, and sources close to Gagosian say that around 300 paintings selected by Hirst will be displayed across the venues.

Meanwhile, Hirst’s other London gallery, White Cube, is preparing a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work. Its website is calling for “current and former owners of the artist’s work” to contact the gallery.

A spokeswoman declined to say whether the gallery’s catalogue is being produced in collaboration with Other Criteria or whether it is in any way connected to the Gagosian publication. Hirst’s business manager, James Kelly, declined to answer questions.

Tate Modern is preparing the first major museum retrospective of the artist’s work, which opens in April and will be curated by Ann Gallagher, the Tate’s head of collections (British art).

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