Art Review: Damien Hirst @ Tate Modern

Damien Hirst spearheaded the Young British Artists movement and was instrumental in bringing modern art to the masses. His works are bold and sensationalist but are they quality art? Critics have been quick to label his work ‘con art’, suggesting that his pieces should be sold before they become worthless. Yet his popularity can be measured by the opening day queue that ran the length of the Tate Modern’s turbine hall.

All of his notable works are here, ranging from the simpler pieces of his early career, through to the animals preserved in formaldehyde and on to his jewel encrusted later efforts. Some say that Hirst is obsessed with death and the macabre but this isn’t his only muse. You need only step in to the gallery where butterflies flutter around your head to realise that Hirst’s works are about the entire cycle from life through to death, and that he sees beauty in both.

Works such as the spot paintings can seem a little dry but the majority of the show leaves a lasting impact. Whether you are disgusted or excited by Hirst, there is no doubt that his art is engaging — and you might not be able to forget the smell of rotting flesh and flies for a long time.

So is he an artistic genius or a showy fraudster? Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, Hirst has permanently changed the boundaries of modern art and captured the imaginations of thousands of people, and that’s all that matters.

Damien Hirst is on display at the Tate Modern until 9 September. Tickets are £14 for adults, concessions available. Booking in advance is strongly recommended. 

‘For the Love of God’ (the diamond encrusted skull) is located in the Turbine Hall. Admission is free.

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  • Anonymous

    One thing that Hirst may be remembered for centuries from now…he was the first (and so far only) artist to be displayed on Mars. One of his spot paintings was onboard the Beagle 2 probe, which is presumably laying in pieces somewhere on the Red Planet after going missing during decent.

    • Llazar

      I don;t see what this has to do with the artwork itself.
      I don;t get it why someone would bother going to hirst when you got Paul Klee at the next door.

  • Anonymous

    If, like Damien Hirst, you’ve studied art history at college, you’ll know where he got his ideas from and that they’ve been done before and done better. If Arte Povera was The Beatles, then Hirst is Oasis.

  • wouldacouldashoulda

    After booking fee, etc., tickets aren’t £14, they are £17.25.  For the Love of God isn’t cheap to insure, I’m guessing.

    • http://twitter.com/LondonArtCritic Tabish Khan

      It’s £15.25 if you remove the optional £1.50 donation to the Tate. Also, I think that this is the Tate modern’s standard fee for big exhibitions – I remember that Gauguin was the same price.

  • Edvardv

    Do not waste your time or money on this exhibition. It is an insult to one’s intelligence and an assault to a person’s being. Stupid stinky smelly ashtrays; medicine cabinets of what you can see in any pharmacy; spin art display that kindergarten children make every day; display of medicine pills. This is not art but a con.

    • http://twitter.com/LondonArtCritic Tabish Khan

      Hirst isn’t to everyone’s taste. However there’s plenty about his art in the media so you can be fairly certain whether you’ll like it or not before you go to see it,  But if you’re unsure, it’s worth a look because of how popular he is.