While attending the London Art Fair at the weekend, we were recounting an article from
The Times regarding the sale of The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living aka "The Shark" by Damien Hirst.
Hirst is considered one of Britain's leading contemporary artists. He is best known of course for his encapsulations of animals and everyday environments in glass boxes, his "dot" series, and his failed attempt at a restaurant styled after a pharmacy in Notting Hill - which Londonist was informed today is now a Marks & Spencers. (We do hope our readers see the humour in that.)
For those of you who aren't aware, the sale of "The Shark" to an American for a mere ₤7 million has contributed to the cavalcade of recent discussions regarding the protection of Britain's art heritage.
Londonist supposes that since Britain is no longer able to "protect and preserve" the works of other nations in its museums, the government is doing what they can to hold onto this nation's works.
Our favorite bit from The Times article is a quote from Hugo Swire, the Shadow Minister for the Arts. When asked his thoughts on the loss of Hirst's piece he responded:
"There is an anomaly here. Just because something is old, does not mean it is precious. This Government is letting the shark just swim away even though it is one of the most important works by an important contemporary artist."
The shark swim away eh? Londonist awards Hugo Swire a whopping 5 points for his superior use of the English language on that one. However, on one additional note, we are sad to report that we agree with some of our prestigious print-based publication brethren that we do indeed prefer the fall's Frieze Art Fair to the LAF. Maybe it was the official Frieze artist-designed vehicles that zipped the VIPs around London, or the Franz Ferdinand DJ-ed events, or the oh-so elegant white tent in the middle of Regent's Park – but there was something a bit more exciting that Frieze achieved. Oh well - another day, another art fair, and another government controversy brewing.