The marriage of the art world’s most hyped artist, Damien Hirst, and the art world’s most powerful art dealer appears to be over. The Financial Times has reported that Larry Gagosian and Damien Hirst will part ways. After an intense year where Gagosian featured Hirst’s spot paintings in a massive global initiative which included shows at 11 different Gagosian galleries worldwide as well as an accompanying contest, the two have agree to an amicable termination of their relationship. The Financial Times writes,
Mr Hirst’s company, Science Ltd, said that “Larry Gagosian and Damien have reached an amicable decision to part company”, adding that the artist would continue his relationship with a second gallery, White Cube, in London.
Gagosian issued a statement, saying: “It has been a great honour to work with Damien over the last 17 years culminating with the worldwide showing of the Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011 at all 11 Gagosian galleries this year . . . We wish him continued success for the future.”
Hirst and Jay Joplin of White Cube have had a long term friendship so the move is more of a return to an old relationship rather than a new venture. Perhaps Larry Gagosian known for his business savvy is just executing his traditional modus operandi of “buy high, sell higher”. Although their have been many premature rumors of Hirst’s market demise, the drum has been beating a little louder as of late as Hari Kunzru of the Guardian recently pointed out,
This year may come to be seen as the high-water mark of Hirst’s cultural power. On 4 April, a retrospective of his work opens at Tate Modern in London. In January, an exhibition of his “pharmaceutical paintings”, canvases of varying sizes covered in uniform coloured dots, opened in all the Gagosian Gallery’s 11 locations around the world. These are major shows, intended to underscore the status of an artist who, at least in the UK, seems to need no help in reaching an audience. The most interesting thing about them is the hints they drop about the new rules of the art world, and about the artist’s future reputation, which is not as secure as it might appear…
If I were Larry Gagosian (usually cited in power lists as the contemporary art world’s most important player) and I wanted to help my top client shore up the value of a body of work that was losing its lustre as its fashionable 90s aesthetic began to look tired, and the penny started to drop among collectors that at every other dinner party they went to they saw something on the wall that looked awfully similar to the something on their own wall, what would I do?