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Reflections of consumerism in Damien Hirst’s Spot Paintings

Blanché, Ulrich

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In what way do Damien Hirst’s artworks reflect (consumer) society? His Pharmaceutical Spot Paintings recall, Damien Hirst is often called a “brand”. Spot Paintings are one of his “product lines” and a logo at the same time. Hirst reflects this with a form of over identification (Slavoj Žižek). Since their transfer from wall to canvas in 1991 each Spot Painting hints at its status as a consumer object in positive, negative and ironic ways. They reflect belief in medicine, advertising and belief systems in general and show various influences of mass production, industrial art and craft, the art market, art history and sociocultural developments since 1980.

„I try to say something and deny it at the same time.“ Damien Hirst

The “Brand” Damien Hirst reflects and inspires with his “product line” series Pharmaceutical Spot Paintings our (consumer) society in various ways - color charts, logos, Smarties™, pool billiard, Go!-Airline or Kidscompany adverts, and evoke reminiscences of pharmaceutical design and packaging. Hirst’s Spots look like ecstasy or sleeping pills, medical and illegal drugs. Both kinds of pills and their package promise a two sided “solution” to problems. As I will argue, with his Spot Paintings Hirst quotes, embraces, reinforces and criticizes (with a form of over identification) consumer society at the same time, without taking position. His walking on the razor’s edge between artist and businessman makes it impossible to talk about Hirst’s art independent from his persona.

Item Type: Conference Item
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2013 09:20
Date: 2011
Number of Pages: 8
Event Dates: 2011
Event Location: New York
Event Title: CAA Conference
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Kunsthistorisches Institut
Subjects: 700 The arts
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