Fast food gets arty

Damien Hirst. Burger King. Do the two sit easy with one another, comfortably, naturally, unforced? Certainly not the argument might go; it appears nonsensical to suggest otherwise that the random marriage of these words is rational. Thus it provokes ridicule and scepticism, disbelief even. You’re pulling my leg, right?
In this particular case, Hirst’s artistic relationship with Burger King is anything but tomfoolery, another example of modern art’s capacity for reinvention, always surprising us with its originality. Even if the result is not what you consider appropriate, it certainly catches our attention.
The conceptual artist, one of the richest and most influential of his generation, has lent his preposterously titled Beautiful Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face (2003) to the fast food chain’s Leicester Square branch.
“I love the novelty of Damien’s artwork being in such an unexpected place,” observed Django Fung, the franchisee of the now distinct branch. “Art should be accessible to everyone, especially in such a busy summer, and putting this painting in our new-look Burger King restaurant in such a high-profile location does just that.”
The two-metre wide £1 million painting, which was devised using a technique known as spin painting – paint applied to a canvas being spun around – is to be displayed in the 200-seat restaurant’s upstairs dining area, which will be kept safe from theft or damage through reinforced glass.
From a marketing point of view, the year-long lease of the painting is seen as masterstroke acquisition for Burger King, which has been looking at innovative ways of increasing its brand awareness during the London 2012 Olympic Games, as its great rival McDonald’s will, as a sponsor, be enjoying plenty of limelight.
No one can doubt the chutzpah of Hirst, who has never conformed to any sort of precept, other than his dedication to his own childlike enthusiasm for making interesting, beautiful and peculiar things. Like Andy Warhol, he sees popular culture for the taking.
“Advertising is the greatest art form of the 20th century,” said the Canadian scholar and philosopher Marshal McLuhan. Hirst extends that thought into the 21st century.