This month sees the opening of the much anticipated exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World at Tate Modern focusing on artists who have sold themselves as brands.
For British art is there a bigger art brand than Damien Hirst and is he about to reverse the downturn is his art market.
The three month exhibition brings together artists from the 1980s onwards who have outwardly embraced commerce and the mass media to build their own 'brands'. Some of the artists represented include Tracey Emin, Keith Haring, Martin Kippenberger, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and of course Damien Hirst.
Damien Hirst, something of an enigma to say the least, and non more so than in recent years with his heavy hand in fuelling of the contemporary art boom in Britain, naturally takes centre stage; it is a London exhibit and he is a paramount contributor to London’s art scene after all.
Famously in September last year Hirst took an unprecedented step for an artist and sold an entire show via auction at Sotheby’s Bond Street. An auction now infamous for rumours of Hirst buying up his own work, inflating his prices, alongside several rumours of reneged deals on work bought. It is an auction that on reflection now marks the downturn in contemporary art market prices.
It is interesting then that Hirst’s appearance at the Tate’s exhibition should reignite his prices again, with recent auction results looking favourable for his limited editions. Even at our London gallery the interest in both our Hirst butterfly prints and the spot prints has gone up 100 fold over the past few weeks.
Hirst, in addition to merely exhibiting his work, is offering an opportunity during this show to actually feature and become a part of his work, providing you are an identical twin. Throughout the exhibition, pairs of twins will sit in front of two of Damien Hirst's iconic Spot Paintings. The Tate and Hirst are asking identical twins to participate for a number of shifts of four hours each during the span of the exhibition. See Hirst’s You Tube video about the opportunity here.
It would appear that along with the recovery of everything else that seemed to go wrong in the world, contemporary art is fighting back strong, with prices seeming to rise not only in Hirst’s limited editions, but also that other massive art brand Banksy.