Is that all there is? Let’s go dancing.

Finally got over to Goss-Michael Foundation for the Hirst thing. I seem to only go there with pal Stephen Lapthisophon , when we need an excuse to prolong our lunch date chat. It was somewhat distressing. I’m really hating art lately, and it’s probably Damien Hirst’s fault.


That’s hyperbole of course. He can’t be blamed for what he naturally is, or the stateof art today. Hirst is more symptom than cause. He’s been doing the same sort of self-aggrandizing, look-at-me shenanigans since he was a kid, and that’s fine. I can respect that, and him really. He’s won. But he is the most notorious producer of an art sucked dry of living moisture by the market run amok, and whatever other cultural forces can be held accountable. He exists much better as this idea in the popular imagination, as a brand name, than as a maker of rigorous objet d’art.

The work is so adolescent, really; you can almost hear it chuckling to itself, like a stoned teenager amused by its own banal, flat-footed, self-referencing ideas – only this stoner is king of the world. It gives off no radiant light or heat, just a sort of pathetic demand for attention, no matter the sort. It’s some morbid, cold-ass shit, brother – a black-laced missive from the setting sun world. What does it mean when a culture fetishizes objects like this that have so little animating spirit, that function on such paltry ideation?

What bugs me is that it all goes absolutely nowhere – it just smugly sits there, exponentially increasing in value. But it doesn’t apparently know that it goes nowhere (contrasted, say, with Richard Prince, a much better artist, who’s nowhere ideas actually do go somewhere, because they don’t pretend to try. Bruce Nauman is another artist doing it better, but my parenthetical runs on…) Hirst’s pieces apparently aspire to be about “big ideas.” How can they not with so many billions of dollars propping them up, sitting as they do on top of the art auction bone pile? The money (which, in today’s post-capitalist world, is sine qua non of cultural value) demands worthy meaning, manufacturing it in the absence of the real thing. I personally find little enough in a canvas covered three lumpy inches deep in flies (though you’d be hard-pressed to figure that out without knowing. It looks more like charred oatmeal.) Yes, I know that sounds clever, like a rotting, anti-Klein monochrome of doom, but the actual experience is just another empty 20 seconds before the next cute idea. Is this Duchamp’s doing, or maybe Jeff Koons': art reduced to nothing more than wink-wink gestures and market manipulation as performance art? I guess somebody has to do it. We get the art we deserve and desire…

There are a couple of those spin paintings, a so-so move from 15 years ago, now with gratuitous (essentially invisible) diamond dust mixed in and some broken mirrors, scalpel and razor blades, and Christmas lights glued on to make the surface zippy, fun, and punk rock!, alluding to otherwise fugitive content. You know, like surgery, cash,corpses, and drugs — in case you needed to be reminded of Hirst’s sole themes.They’re indistinguishable from the products of any intermediate painting class- spilled paint and broken glass: you know you’ve seen it, if not done it. Blandly likable, the butterfly “paintings” look better in pictures, like everything else he makes. There’re some critters in tanks, Hirst now faithlessly toying with Christian imagery – definite Dali-esque indication of him having totally jumped the shark (haha). He does have more money than God now, I guess. I don’t know, I just find it all such a bummer. The Goss space is such a mess, too; next door to thehigh-end optical boutique, weirdly angled and choppy, (much like the Denver Art Museum) it reduces objects displayed to a series of doo-dads and goo-gaws, which issort of what their collection so far has appeared to be.

Because of the prices, maybe we just expect too much. Taken out of the context of swingin’ 90’s London, and his role as agent provocateur and ring leader of that scene, maybe the work is doomed to fall flat. Is art’s ultimate expression of our age really to act only as nostalgic document of a fashionable moment 10 years ago and recedeing? Or worse, just testament to the utter decadence of a handful of super-rich marketeers on an absurdist spending spree while the world comes undone? 

I hate art lately. Don’t we all sometimes; don’t we all…

Ahhh. I feel better now to just let all that out. A big ranting art fart. I should excuse myself, letting it fly in public like this. Fuck it, Damien Hirst is fine. Go, Damien Hirst!

oh, I just found Charissa Terranova’s review of the show in the DMN. Her synopsis? "In this exhibition, the former Goss Gallery hews to a new highstandard of work and intellectually nuanced exhibitions." Well, there you go. As usual, I missed the gist entirely. Never mind.



Iactually went out to a bar last night. I guess I’m lame, old married guy now and rarely seem to get out. I’ve been locking myself in the house for the last two weeks, trying to force myself to write syllabi and assignment descriptions using the 10 pages of new guidelines we’ve been saddled with, which is an experience on par with root canal surgery or bamboo under fingernails. Anyway, a few folks favorably mentioned Ali Fitzgerald’s blog “rant” re: Glasstire (you’re famous, Ali, at least among 5 people in Dallas). She’s effortlessly funny, in that way the best bloggers are. And right in some ways. Everyone I know is saying kinda the same thing. I know I’d vote for more serious criticism again someday on GT, and maybe a more objective stance regards pure information dissemination, though I haven’t noticed it to be that bitch-y. Maybe I just haven’t read the Houston/Austin listings enough. Lord knows we bitch enough on these blogs – isn’t that kinda our job? Let GT know your opinion…


also by Titus OBrien

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3 responses to “Is that all there is? Let’s go dancing.”

  1. I have a blue and white dish that is more interesting than you and Charissa COMBINED.

  2. come on. We all do our best.
    But keep these scintillating bon mot coming. I especially like the retractions, and apologies for being an ass.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts about Hirst at Goss.
    Writing is fucking hard, and you make it look easy.

    Terranova’s moving product. So superlative = most expensive is no stretch of the imagination for a vendor. Vendors ‘gush’ around hot product.

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