Monday, May 19, 2008


Interesting to watch two art stories playing out in two different cultures at the same time. In the United States the reaction to Robert Rauschenberg's death has been thoughtful and, although not always complimentary to the work, consistently serious about its place in the culture. The idea of Rauschenberg as an experimental artist has been central to most articles. Here the response to Damien Hirst's heart and dagger piece (a work that would not have been possible without Rauschenberg) has been uniformly trivial and focused on price, artist bashing and, in a new twist, custom's regulations . In fairness, this time it's not entirely the media's fault as Gow Langsford waved the million dollar price tag ahead of them like a red flag. They were also more than happy to prime the pump with another guaranteed headliner, the getting-weird-art-through-customs story. On cue, the media and a few of the regular curmudgeons shook the Hirst around like ratting dogs, as was intended. Interesting stuff, like how the heart and dagger fit into Hirst's work, how many examples there are and what it might be about was lost in the rush to create another oh-for-God's-sake art story.