Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beauty and Excess

I subscribe to e-flux which is one way of keeping up to date with the artworld. 

In my inbox this morning is notification that Damien Hurst's diamond skull artwork 'For the Love of God' is being exhibited in Florence.

Ahhhhhh Florence. One of the most beautiful and decadent places in the world - Brunelleschi's massive dome, Michelangelo's awe inspiring David, the Uffizi Gallery filled with Renaissance treasures, The Ponte Vecchio paved with gold shops, glorious window displays of major designers... 

How apt that Hurst's skull is being exhibited here.

For the Love of God is a life-size cast of a human skull in platinum, entirely covered by 8,601 VVS to flawless pavé-set diamonds, weighing a total of 1,106.18 carats. Set into the forehead is a large pear-shaped pink diamond, known as the Skull Star Diamond. The teeth are those of the original skull, which was purchased by Hirst in London, and dates back to the eighteenth-century. The work stands in the great tradition of the 'Memento Mori', where an image or an object serves to remind us of our mortality. Dutch art historian Rudi Fuchs, writing about the work in 2007, observed: 'The skull is out of this world, celestial almost. It proclaims victory over decay. At the same time it represents death as something infinitely more relentless. Compared to the tearful sadness of a vanitas scene, the diamond skull is glory itself.' 
What a work! I find it hard to reconcile that a work such as this can be produced when there is so much poverty in the world, and yet, I love how the skull encourages debate and argument. Maybe this is how art can save the world! 
The combined value of the diamonds (it cost $20 million to makes) and the reputation of the artist makes the work almost priceless - apparently it is on the market for $100 million however I can see the work becoming far more valuable in years to come, with possible added value after being displayed in Florence.

  The work is an object that symbolises excess, greed for power, wealth, and ownership of valuable and very beautiful objects. Much better than a diamonte studded i-phone. 

Concerns for the ethical are aroused when thinking about where these diamonds came from - apparently they were ethically sourced and can be traced, however, it is food for thought.

At a time when I am simplifying my life more than I ever have before, this art object sparks more curiosity than it ever has in the past - it represents everything I am trying to remove from my life!

Art News Blog states that:
 A lot of people feel very strongly about it, either negatively or positively, but that's part of the job of an artist; to make people think or look at things in a different way. So, in the responses that it has provoked, it succeeds as a work of art.

  Would I go to see it? You bet.


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