Damien Hirst and Gagosian part
Damien Hirst, the world’s richest living artist, is to part with the Gagosian, which is, incidentally, the world’s richest gallery, ending one of the most lucrative, powerful and influential partnerships in the history of art.
The gallery revealed the news with a statement, saying that it had been a great honour to work with the contemporary visionary for the best part of 17 years, which culminated with the worldwide showing of Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 at 11 Gagosians.
Hirst’s company Science Ltd also released a statement confirming that they were going their separate ways. It said that both “Larry Gagosian and Damien have reached an amicable decision to part company”. It added that it would have no impact on his existing relationship with the London gallery White Cube.
The question on everyone’s lips now though is who is lined up or interested in representing Hirst in New York. While he might not be as bankable as he once was, he remains popular, is loved by celebrities and can still draw in huge crowds.
Moreover, the fact that he is such a divisive contemporary artist makes him, regardless of what one may think of his work, an interesting and lucrative investment.
The Gagosian recognised this. Cristina Ruiz, editor at large for The Art Newspaper, told the Financial Times: “It was a perfect meeting of the market and the artist and a brilliant experiment in mass branding.”
This was especially the case with the mass produced spot paintings, which, despite the fact that there are so many of them, have consistently sold well at auction, going for as much as £1.2 million. With new markets opening up in Asia and the Middle East, where Hirst’s popularity is still very high, having him on the books is a strategic move that could really pay off.
It is still unclear what exactly has resulted in the dissolution of this relationship, which will no doubt be the dominant subject matter throughout the art world over the next few weeks, but it certainly marks the end of a unique faction.
What now then for Hirst? More art, more money, more ridicule and more reverence. It is inevitable that he will remain a key figure within art for the rest of his life, and posthumously, a fascinating product of his generation, and, to a degree, an exception. To think of Hirst and art is to think of money.
“Money is massive; I don’t think it should ever be the goal, but I had no money as a kid and so I was maybe a bit more motivated than the rest,” he said in an interview with the Observer earlier this year.
“I used to argue with Angus [Fairhurst] and Sarah [Lucas] about that all the time when we were starting out and struggling. They’d say: ‘You’re obsessed’ and I’d be like, ‘It’s important’. I do believe art is more powerful than money, though. I still believe that. And if I ever find out money’s more important, I’ll knock it on the head.”
Cadogan Tate has extensive experience in shipping fine art all over the world.