After a record-breaking solo auction at SOTHEBY’S in September that raised a record $200 million USD, DAMIEN HIRST has announced this week that he’s laying off half of his staff of London-based assistants that create the bulk of his art in a factory-style setting under his Science Ltd. studio umbrella. Having explained in July that he would cease production of some of his most (in)famous series of works including the spin, butterfly, and medicine cabinet lines, after the last offerings of each were sold at Sotheby’s, Hirst has scaled back his workforce accordingly, perhaps in anticipation of upcoming artwork that he promises will be more painterly and hands-on with less emphasis on the manufactured sculptural tableaux he’s become famous for. Around 20 of Hirst’s assistants who are earn a reported $30K USD each, have been let go, and although workers have been told not to speak to the press, the artist’s spokesperson Jude Tyrrell explained, “As previously stated by Damien, he is finishing a number of bodies of works which is why temporary contracts have not been renewed. We have to be mindful of the current economic climate and how this may affect us in the future." After all, art, above all else, must reflect one’s times, no?
In other Hirst news, have a look at Damien’s commentary on his recent entry into the BRITISH MUSEUM’s current “Statuephilia” show and the skull as a metaphor in his art:
After rocketing into the stratosphere of the underground art world in the past few years, the anonymous collaborative street art duo known only as FAILE is making huge waves across the pond with the debut of "Lost in Glimmering Shadows," a show of ambitious multimedia work at London's starmaking LAZARIDES GALLERY. Located in the Lilian Baylis Old School, a special offsite non-gallery venue chosen to maximize the impact of the show's presentation, the vast array of large and huge-scale paintings and sculptures are radiant in their new home, owing much to gallery impresario STEVE LAZARIDES' knack for spectacle. Introducing a new Native American theme to their work, Faile are returning to their early aesthetic influences growing up in the Southwest by channeling appropriated Pop cultural renderings of American Indian culture into their trademark heavily layered work in a pointed commentary on "the expanse of contemporary commercialism at the expense of society's connection with nature and spirit." Explosive color is a unifying theme throughout the show, the focal point of which is a series of impressive new "collage" paintings, and carries through to the beautiful, carved 5-foot-tall Native American wooden prayer wheels engraved with a mix of Faile's trademark Americana iconography, and the smaller wooden boxes bearing more of the same. More subdued were the round palette paintings that mimicked Native American pottery and baskets in both shape and pattern and interwoven with Faile's graphic messaging. With prices ranging from $7,000—100,000 USD and work selling as fast as the gallery can take orders, it's obvious that the world of street art is thus far proving recession proof amid the global economic meltdown. Londoners take note, the show is only on display until November 16th, so don't sleep. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
For better or worse, London remains the undisputed nexus of the "street art" universe where art stunts reign supreme and the city's young upstarts avidly compete in a constant battle of one-upsmanship in the public eye. This Firday nite painter ADAM NEATE in conjunction with venerable gallery ELMS LESTERS PAINTING ROOMS have joined forces to up the ante a bit in presenting "The London Show," a conceptual event whereby the entire city of London will become an impromptu gallery of the artist's work after he deposits 1,000 free pieces of art in the metropolis' endless maze of nooks and crannies:
"As dusk falls on Friday 14th November, Adam Neate will be claiming the streets of London as his personal “gallery” by leaving 1000 artworks scattered across the city. Teams of distributors will begin under cover of darkness at the furthest edges of the capital, working their way towards the centre by daybreak on Saturday, randomly distributing individually numbered ‘unique’ multiples. For one night only, “The London Show” adopts the whole capital as its gallery space and rethinks the idea of the ‘private view’. There won’t be any queues to see the work, no chilled wine, the artist himself won’t necessarily be present - just one thousand chance encounters that make up a conceptually pre-meditated potlatch. Adam Neate reckons to have left around 6,000 paintings on cardboard on the city’s streets over a period dating back many years. But that was at the height of his anonymity and now, with his star in its ascendancy in the British contemporary art scene; his distinctive style has become instantly recognizable. 'The whole concept when I started the free art thing was challenging the notion of art as a commodity and its worth in society,' says the artist. 'Now I’m taking that to another level, testing the viability of separating art from commerce.' To create the works, Neate has worked with a silkscreen printer to ‘mass-produce’ the same number of paintings in a couple of weeks that it would have taken him a year to make by hand. “I’m interested in that Warhol idea of the brand as assisted readymade. Apart from creating the master image in stencil, I haven’t had to touch these works at any point in their production, even the signature is rubber-stamped – and although they’re multiples, each one is compositionally unique.” Printed on cardboard and shrink-wrapped in cellophane, there’s a deliberate attempt to blur the boundary between painting, print, and product. “I remember as a kid going into Woolworth’s and seeing laminated prints of that famous Tretchikoff painting ‘The Chinese Girl’ and thinking it was great that people could have that iconic image at home for next to nothing. I’m hoping that for some people who come across one of these new paintings, they’ll pick it up not because they recognize it as one of mine, but just because they connect with the image and would like to hang it on their wall.” When they get it home, each new owner can decide whether their chance acquisition of an art work by Adam Neate has greater value with the shrink wrap left on (pure product), or taken off (pure painting). Whichever they decide, they still own one thousandth of an extraordinary public art project."
High concept or just hype? You be the judge...
The art "Extravaganza" event that was originally scheduled to take place at the now infamous LAZARIDES GALLERY in London last week during the throes of the FRIEZE ART FAIR was instead turned into the "Shut Down Show" after the local authorities canned STEVE LAZARIDES' original setup over gambling concerns. Turns out Laz's grand plan to sell 250 tickets at £5,000 GBP each for the event—which guaranteed every participant a 1-in-10 chance of winning an original piece of art from the gallerist's stable of artists including Miranda Donovan and Faile and included a raffle of an original BANKSY oil painting valued at more than £300,000 GBP—looked more like a mini casino operation to the gambling commission than a proper art show. Instead, Lazarides stepped to the plate and converted the original fete into an equally impressive group show of art by ANTHONY MICALLEF, INVADER, PAUL INSECT, and JONATHAN YEO, to name a few, that also included several vintage works by Banksy, including the "corrupted" oil painting that was to serve as the centerpiece of the raffle. While everyone who bought tickets for the original party was given a full refund and a piece of free artwork for their trouble, the new show did include a "Gnome Bowling" game whereby anyone knocking down a set of gnome bowling pins received a piece of free art, a less-than-subtle F.U. to the gambling commission if there ever was one. Of course, our man TIM BISKUP was on the scene to take in the spread, pick up on the ladies, and even DJ'd the afterparty side-by-side with Supertouch homie ACYDE at SoHo HOUSE where show attendees like DENNIS HOPPER tore it up late into the foggy eve. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
Parisian photographer/street artist/Supertouch buddy JR has been making big waves in the art world this past year with massive public photographic installations worldwide that have literally stopped a legion of admirers in their tracks with their sheer scale and emotional depth. Now, in London, the artist translates that effect on a smaller scale to the gallery with his first ever UK solo show at the starmaking LAZARIDES GALLERY. Titled "28 Millimeters: Women," the show of mounted photographs chronicles his time spent recently in Rio de Janeiro where he photographed the unknown female residents of various favelas in a project that initially led to a massive hillside favela installation that drew worldwide attention. To up the visual ante on this intimate show, the artist has managed to commandeer some massive walls in the streets near the gallery for a huge-scale street installation that must be seen in person to be believed. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
New York's own JOSE PARLA has been in London for the past month, creating a massive new body of work that was revealed last week at ELMS LESTERS PAINTING ROOMS in his first UK solo show, "Adaptation/Translation." The exhibition, which includes many large-scale works, explores the wanderings of urban populations and through his continuing series of text-heavy paintings, seeks to translate these personal experiences through the artist's own graphic visual language. Drawing vast inspiration from city walls in urban centers around the world, Parla builds up his paintings with deep layers of imagery and texture in a manner that closely mimics the natural aging process of these constantly evolving surfaces. The show's centerpiece is a massive 15-foot-tall painting that stands as Parla's most significant stand-alone text-based work to date. To commemorate the opening, the artist has produced a beautiful limited-edition book that is available for purchase through the gallery. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
In what is surely the single event that turned even the most aesthetically impaired men of the world into modern art lovers, renowned British sculptor MARC QUINN unveiled his solid gold KATE MOSS sculpture at the BRITISH MUSEUM this weekend as part of the "Statuephilia" show that also included works by DAMIEN HIRST, RON MUECK, NOBLE & WEBSTER, and ANTONY GORMLEY. Titled "Siren," the piece is made of solid 18K gold and cost nearly $3 million USD to fabricate, with nearly all the cost going to the price of gold. It is the largest solid gold sculpture made since ancient Egypt.Read More
London street bomber and STOLEN SPACE gallery impresario D*FACE unveiled his grand homage to the unholy marriage of "Street" and Pop Art with his instant sellout "Apopcalypse" solo show at the upstart BLACK RAT PRESS GALLERY in London last Saturday. Forget, of course, that a global recession predicated on a string of worldwide bank failures and a near-total American housing market collapse is upon us, this is England, where the Pound is, well, "sound as a pound," and street art is the aesthetic currency of the day. In the land where—as of late last month— Damien Hirst finally has enough green to put a down payment on Buckingham Palace while keeping 10 Downing Street as a crash pad, the robber barons of Canary Wharf and The Square Mile still worship Sir Banksy as a Royal and are keeping the town's once-starving guerilla artist population fat and happy. With copious shout-outs to Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein, Steve Ditko, and the credit crisis, our man D cleaned up proper with a multifaceted show that ranged from interactive sculpture, to paintings, large-scale collage, a giant Holy Cross made of corporate emblems and a Warhol-style silver balloon room, painted a la Keith Haring. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
Timed to coincide with his solo show opening at the LAZARIDES GALLERY's Greek Street location in London this Friday, October 3rd, Parisian photographer/street artist JR has gone huge in the streets of SoHo. Plastering numerous buildings with his massive black & white photographic images, most shot in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro for his recent hillside "28 Millimetres: Women" series, several of the photos include a toll free phone number posted beneath so the public can call in to hear the recorded story of the women depicted. In the mostly boring world of s0-called "street art," JR is a killer, making monster moves worldwide with an eye for social causes and an insightful depth that rightly separates him from his stencil-bound brethren. HAVE A LOOK: Read More
Paying homage to the bubble-shaped behinds so beloved by English street artist INSA, this new collaborative edition by UK design house ROUSSEAU adds an innovative twist to the iconic Pop furniture staple. Featuring his iconic spiraling high-heeled graphics, the limited edition Lucite chair was unveiled at last week's DESIGNERSBLOCK LONDON and is set to hit retail this fall. The unexpected added bonus? In this real estate market, it's the perfect time to go shopping for the perfect mod crash pad to put the chair in...