3) London at the Turn of the Millennium in:

Ulrich Blanché

Damien Hirst, page 53 - 78

Gallery Art in a Material World

1. Edition 2018, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4030-0, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6772-7,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
London at the Turn of the Millennium »The spectacle of terrorism forces the terrorism of the spectacle.« Jean Baudrillard, 1978 Damien Hirst and Banksy are British artists who are not originally from London but who celebrated their first success there and show(ed) and lived there for a longer period of time. As analysis shows, both deal with rather universal themes and their approach is not explicitly regional, although typical British elements like the occasional macabre humor is characteristic of the oeuvre of both. They are also better known in their home country than abroad. Although they cannot be regarded as local British artists, the city of London served as a springboard to both of their artistic success. The following section provides facts and relationships typical for the cosmopolitan city of London or the UK, but these are largely applicable to other industrial nations and cities as well. Around the turn of the millennium (or after), artists such as Hirst and Banksy delt with topics such as consumption or the art market, so a brief historical overview is provided to illustrate the socio-cultural ground on which their contemporary art is based. From the mid-1960 s, London became the center of youth culture, first of Swinging London Carnaby Street in and around Soho, and later, in the late 1970 s, by the then politicized punk movement. This study is limited to developments since 1979, the beginning of Thatcherism, the effects of which for many lasted even after the woman herself left office in 1990. It was during this time that Banksy, born in the mid 1970 s, and Hirst, about ten years older, came of age. With more than 7.5 million inhabitants in 2007, Greater London is the largest city in the European Union. As capital of Great Britain and the Commonwealth and former capital of the British Empire, London maintains close political and economic relations with the United States and several Asian countries such as the former colonies, where English is often still commercial and legal language. A study by the British government in 2005 found that more than 300 different languages are spoken in London and over 50 foreign ethnic groups, each with more than 10,000 members, are represented, including Indians, Irishmen, Bangladeshi and Jamaican. Only 58 percent of Londoners are 3) 53 British, just as many call themselves Christians. 8.5 percent are Muslims. Among others, fact that the British make up less than 60 percent of the London population reveals that London cannot necessarily be seen as a representative of Great Britain, but rather of comparably large, global, multi-cultural centers such as Paris or New York. Nevertheless, as the capital of Great Britain, London is influenced by the countryside and conversely affects the country. Since the end of the Thatcher era, London, alongside New York and Tokyo, has been a global financial capital, where more than one-fifth of Europe's and more than half of Britain’s largest companies have their headquarters. Although this time dates back nearly 20 years, Thatcher’s influence continued to be felt in the reign of Labour Prime Ministers Tony Blair (1997-2007) and Gordon Brown (2007-2010), e.g. in the economic or foreign policy. London is the UK's media center where almost all the major British newspapers and television stations are headquartered. Besides its importance as a metropolis and financial center, London is also the UK's Centre of Culture and Tourism. Since 2007, the international financial crisis changed London, as well. This banking, financial, and economic crisis that began in early summer 2007 with the U.S. housing crisis, is a result of the growth of economic bubbles in the U.S. as well as a worldwide mass speculation financed by credit. The global crisis expressed itself first in losses and bankruptcies at companies in the financial sector, mainly after the collapse of U.S. bank Lehman Brothers Investment Bank on September 15, 2008, which stands as a symbolic date for the beginning of the crisis. Consequences in the UK were/are an ongoing recession, record unemployment, falling property prices, and exchange rate losses. Approximately 100,000 financial jobs were lost in the UK alone in the years between 2007 and 2010. After 13 years of a Labour government and for the first time since the Second World War, a Tory coalition with the Liberal Democrats came to power in 2010 under the new prime minister, David Cameron. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 54 London's Cultural Landscape since 1980 The art world in London around 1980 was limited, according to Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London since 2001.115 Only a handful of commercial galleries showed contemporary art at that time. Successful British artists like Richard Deacon, Bill Woodrow and Julian Opie worked mainly in the field of sculpture, which stood in harmonious contrast to the Conceptual Art and Land Art that was so dominant in the 1970 s. Margaret Thatcher lowered taxes in an effort to increase spending. At the same time, social housing and national industries were sold to private companies, and the influence of the government was generally decreased. In particular, the financial system benefited from these changes. »The »big bang« in the City of London ended import and currency controls, allowing the globalization of capital and its free flow round the planet.«116 At the same time, the pound was devalued, and unemployment rose. According to the sociologist Giddens, Thatcherism is defined primarily by a »lean« state, autonomous civil society, market fundamentalism, authoritarian morality in connection with economic individualism, a self-regulating labor market, an acceptance of inequality, and traditional nationalism. Linear modernization prevailed, along with a weak environmental awareness and educated neorealist thinking in international politics. The Victorian welfare state was privatized largely, and the social safety net suffered deep reductions. Thatcher said in an interview that »society« does not exist: »I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand 'I have a problem, it is the Government's job to cope with it!' or 'I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!' 'I am homeless, the Government must house me!' and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.«117 a) 115 The following paragraph quotes from a speech by Iwona Blazwick: Discussing Hirst’s early work and its reception. Damien Hirst Study Day 13th January 2010, Wallace Collection, London. 116 Lawson 2009, p. 91. 117 Margaret Thatcher interviewed by Douglas Keath: Aids, Education and the Year 2000! In: Woman's Own 31 October 1987, p. 8-10. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 55 Due to her policy, the labor market became »flexible«. The former industrial society became a service society, in which new jobs were created particularly in the financial sector and in retail trade. In 2010, over 480 banks were based in London (compared to 79 in 1985118). Thus London, despite ongoing economic crisis, has the largest bank density worldwide. Mirroring the trend in other countries, since Thatcher, the average British citizen works several jobs over the span of their working years rather than staying in one occupation for the duration of their work-life. Thus, according to Lawson, a shift in identity took place, from the producer side to consumer side. We identify more with what we own or consume and less with what we do professionally, because work could change constantly. Lawson notices this in context with privatization. Citizens who are now customers or consumers, can be better served by a private contractor. After an economic boom in the 1980 s followed the Black Monday crash on October 19, 1987 and a prolonged recession, unemployment rose. In addition, the United Kingdom was involved in the Gulf War. That fact coupled with the negative manifestations of Thatcher's reforms and her »selling of the family silver, privatizing the nation’s public utilities«119 led to growing dissatisfaction with the government, which was reflected in the Poll Tax riots of the 1990 s120 when tens of thousands demonstrated against Thatcher's policies. The »Iron Lady« cut arts funding enormously, so many artists turned to academia in order to secure their existence, for example in art schools in London like the Royal College of Art (RCA), Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, or the Goldsmiths College, which belongs to the University of London. While (roughly speaking) the RCA was very influential and produced artists such as Henry Moore and David Hockney, in particular from the 1920 s until the 1960 s, Saint Martin's College was stylistically seminal in the 1960 s and '70 s with artists like Gilbert & George and Richard Long.121 118 Stryker McGuire: This time I've come to bury Cool Britannia. The Observer 29 March 2009. 119 Ibid, p. 12,13. 120 See ibid, p. 26,27. 121 See Richard Cork: Die Siebziger Jahre und danach. In: Susan Compton (Ed.): Englische Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert. Exhibition catalogue. 1987, p. 414. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 56 Goldsmiths College, however, was the most important talent factory for the late 1980 s and early 1990 s.122 At this art school in (then and sometimes still) poorer east London, artists such as the Irish-born conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin (born 1941) and the 1936-born painter and influential curator Jon Thompson taught classes. The latter opened up as director of the art departments at Goldsmiths, so for the first time students were able to move freely between painting, sculpture, photography, et cetera. This would later become a model for other art schools in Britain. In this way, Goldsmiths was the first to respond to the signs of times, when internationally significant and influential contemporary artists like Beuys, Nauman or Koons were difficult to define through a single medium. Moreover, teachers began to speak about psychoanalysis, anthropology, feminism and art theory instead of talking exclusively about art history. Through Craig-Martin, Goldsmiths also broke with the hitherto prevailing traditional artist image of the solitary painter locked in his studio, which artists like Lucian Freud still practiced. Craig-Martin and his fellow lecturers incited their students to social interaction and artistic collaboration, and encouraged them to visit exhibitions and art openings. According to Blazwick, it was difficult to get invitations to private viewings at that time. In the main gallery street, Cork Street123, there was an air of exclusivity and elite competition, which can sometimes still be felt today. Galleries for contemporary art were rare.124 Also due to the small number of large institutions that showed contemporary art, it was hard for a young artist to ever exhibit and sell art at all: »And there was the art world, the fucking British art world. There was the Lisson Gallery, which was very snobby. And Nicholas [Logsdail, the director] was virtually saying go back to your studio for five years and have a little think.«125 122 See Richard Shone: From Freeze to House. 1988-94. In: Royal Academy of Arts (Ed.): Sensation. Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection. Exhibition catalogue. London 1997, p. 12. 123 Muir 2009, p. 34. 124 Muir 2009, p. 39. 125 Damien Hirst interviewed by Anthony Haden-Guest: Damien Hirst – fresh from auctioning of more than 200 pieces of his work [Interview]. In: Interview Magazine December 2008, p. 155. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 57 According to Muir, at the end of the 1980 s, London was not yet connected to the world of contemporary art126, this happened only in the early 1990 s with a group that became known in art history as Young British Artists. Damien Hirst and Young British Artists127 »Marketing strategies in art history are not new, but the social mechanisms used were presented with new efficiency by the advertising mogul Charles Saatchi in the late nineties. All social roles lent their voices to the script that Saatchi contrived [...] for an exhibition with the ambiguous name 'Sensation' and well-orchestrated scandals for his label YBA, Young British Artists, also premiering in America. Peter Schneemann, art historian One of Craig-Martin's and Thomson's students in the mid-1980 s was Damien Hirst, born in Leeds in 1965128, who grew up in modest circumstances. Hirst worked three days a week at the established D'Offay Gallery, where he served wine at private showings and staged artwork for customer visits.129 At Goldsmiths, he created collages of found objects like Kurt Schwitters and painted irregular color spots.130 Compared with what would follow, his early works were not shocking at all.131 In addition to the aforementioned overcoming of the genre boundaries at Goldsmiths, the young Hirst and his fellow students gained inspiration from the architectural changes of the college. At that time, Goldsmiths underwent a long-term renovation and conversion. The studios of Damien Hirst and his generation were swapped out. The technical equipment, for example, used to produce sculptures was often away at completely different locations. Hence, the students had to send detailed instructions to the Goldb) 126 Ibid, p. 3. 127 A good addition to this chapter and the following are the first three chapters in Cooper 2012, p.17-58 and p.73-86. 128 See: Hirst/Burn: On the Way to Work. London 2001, p. 122, 125. Also Cressida Connolly: Michael Craig-Martin: out of the ordinary. Telegraph Online from 24 November 2007. Hirst often spoke here about the Goldsmiths professor Richard Wentworth. 129 See: Muir 2009, p. 15. 130 Compare to Hirst/Burn 2001, p. 118-121. 131 See Muir 2009, p. 40. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 58 smiths technicians there who would fabricate works according to the artists' specifications. This strongly influenced Hirst's methods of operation. Until 2008, Hirst created most of his works with the help of assistants who were working according to just such instructions. Another influence on Hirst the student was advertising. In particular, the young student was fascinated by the Art Directors Club book, published annually, housed in the Goldsmiths Library, in which the professional association of leading art directors in the advertising industry gave an award to the best new advertising graphics.132 Advertising in the 1980 s formed a contrast to the conservative governments of Reagan and Thatcher, when art became even more elite than before. The relationship between art and the media (not only) in the 1980 s was also ambivalent because artists both criticized the system, on the one hand, and on the other hand, profited from it.133 Furthermore, artistically designed advertising, such as the cigarette brand Silk Cut, influenced the young Hirst, and also Jake Chapman. Both refer to this brand in a number of earlier works134: »[T]he Silk Cut ads that have been running in British newspapers and magazines for several years contain more obvious art-historical references ─ Fontana’s slashed canvases, for instance, Barnett Newman’s »zip’ paintings ─ are more obviously (if ironically) »artistic’, than any or all the Acquired Inability to Escape series into which a Silk Cut cigarette packet has been incorporated without inflection or intervention. [Hirst] has produced photographic pieces ─ slick, sumptuous, seductive ─ which look like cigarette advertisements in which the copy lines have simply been removed.«135 Because the predominant art establishment was seen as restrictive and elitist by Hirst and many of his fellow students, as well as the fact that there were simply no opportunities to exhibit contemporary art as a young artist, the 132 See Blazwick 2010. 133 Ibid. 134 See Damien Hirst: I want to spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now. 1997. [reduced in printed size, with the same contant in the new edition] London 2005, p. 100-110. See also Hirst’s quote: »I get a lot of inspiration from ads in order to communicate my ideas as an artist and of course Charles [Saatchi] is very close to that.« From: Buck 1997, p. 127. See also Muir 2009, p. 53. 135 Gordon Burns: In Mr. Death in? In: Hirst 1997, p. 11. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 59 artists decided to take their careers into their own hands. According to Craig- Martin they had no other choice: »In a country that had few contemporary galleries and even fewer collectors, generations of young artists had survived through art-school-teaching, the dole, various enterprise schemes, odd jobs. By the end of Margaret Thatcher’s reign these options had more or less dried up. I always find it laughable that people think that the YBAs were cynical careerists. […] The expectation of selling for more than a few hundred pounds was so low that they often made work that defied the idea of the market altogether.«136 In early 1988, Hirst's older classmate and friend Angus Fairhurst contacted the Bloomsbury Gallery, where Fairhurst organized an exhibition entitled »Progress by Degree« in February of that year.137 In addition to himself, his fellow students Mat Collishaw, Abigail Lane, and Damien Hirst participated. Later, all four art students would be labeled as »Young British Artists«. Today the term includes a heterogeneous group of conceptual artists, sculptors, installation artists and painters who were active in London in the 1990 s, many of whom studied at Goldsmiths. The actual birth of this then yet-unnamed group occurred by way of another exhibition, Freeze. As a »true a child of Thatcher« Hirst did not wait to be discovered by the few traditional and elitist institutions in London that exhibited contemporary art: the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), the Serpentine Gallery, and the Camden Arts Centre. Rather, the 23-year-old self-organized the group exhibition Freeze in 1988, the second year of his undergraduate studies, which was influenced by concept art of the 1970 s138 and which was, for most of the participating artists (in retrospect), the first step towards success.139 Hirst found the venue, a vacant office building in London's docklands, as well as business sponsors: the London Docklands Development Corporation and the company Olympia & York, who had an interest in revitalizing the run-down area.140 What had been a bustling waterfront in the 1950 s, 136 Craig-Martin: Damien Hirst. The Early years. In Gallagher 2012, p. 38-39. 137 See (accessed March 28, 2012) 138 See Muir 2009, p. 23. 139 See ibid. 140 See ibid, p. 20. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 60 was largely vacant and decaying since 1980. The low rents attracted artists and bohemians, who moved into the empty warehouses, installed workshops and studios there, and organized large parties with art performances. This in turn influenced Hirst, as artist-curator, to show works of 16 of his fellow students at Goldsmiths in the docklands, which at that time was an unusual practice. Hirst was so contrary to the prevailing practice of the »everyone for himself« rat race and, instead of creating an air of competition, he returned to the cooperation of the European avant-garde of the early 20th Century whose members designed and exhibited works in dialogue together.141 The fact that Hirst and his fellow students exhibited outside the academic and institutional environment can be seen in comparison to Courbet's pavilion du Réalisme 17, which served as a counterpart to the official Paris Salon exhibition. Liebs wrote about Hirst: »In the Paris bourgeoisie, clever provocateurs and self-marketers could succeed in the market, as in the case of the painter Gustave Courbet, who, rejected by the official Salon, simply founded his own exhibition space. Courbet’s [and again Hirst’s, note UB] pursuit of attention, understood as a desire for freedom, was considered as distinct, and also goes for art as a whole: it cut the cord with the traditional canon, declared him autonomous, and served to free him from the force of trade of the artistgenius of Modernism, which served as a source of its own power.«142 Freeze was divided into three periods143, Craig-Martin was able to activate well-known faces of the art world like Sir Norman Rosenthal from the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Nicholas Serota of the Tate Gallery and the art collector and »media mogul« Charles Saatchi, who all came to the opening.144 The show ran at different stations for several months and, in spite of low media coverage, was later understood as the initial spark for the new art scene in London. Hirst then organized and (co-) curated as artist-curator two warehouse-exhibitions in the East End in 1990, Modern Medicine and Gambler, and sparked an explosion of art exhibitions outside the traditional gallery space, which continues in London to this day (2012). 141 See Blazwick 2010. 142 Holger Liebs: Mach’s doch selbst. Damien Hirst: der Künstler als Leitbild der Krise. SZ Feuilleton from 26 November 2008. 143 Part one ran from 6-22 August, part two from 27 August-12 September, and part three from then until 29 September 1988. 144 See Jessica Berens: Freeze: 20 years on. Online edition of the Guardian from 1 June 2008. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 61 The term YBA in its long form was coined by the aforementioned »advertising mogul«, art collector, and early supporter and patron of the artists in this group, Charles Saatchi, with a series of exhibitions of the same name that started in 1992, a title that was then carried on as a label by the press. In 1970, then 26-year-old Saatchi along with his brother, Maurice, founded the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.145 With their political campaign »Labour Isn’t Working,« they contributed to the 1979 electoral success of Margaret Thatcher’s Tories and were perceived and referred to as »Thatcher's children«. From 1983 onward, Saatchi & Saatchi developed the previously mentioned artistic advertising campaign for Silk Cut Cigarettes. Together with his then wife, the American art critic, Doris Lockhart, Charles Saatchi invested in a large modern art collection and became a gallery owner. The Saatchi Collection, which at the time was deeply influenced by Doris Saatchi, opened in 1984.146 She was an expert on American minimalism, which was reflected in the works and in the presentation of the collection: According to Blazwick, London galleries in the 1980 s like the Tate were hung very closely. Colorful wallpaper and rustic wood floors, gold frames and paintings in predominantly 'domestic' size dominated the museums and galleries, and thus influenced the works of many artists: »You just couldn’t fit the size of paintings we wanted to make into Cork Street. If you were supposed to fit into the art world you would have to scale the work down. […] Warhol had done Thirteen Most Wanted Men huge. But Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton were still doing these small paintings. And little things. Very kind of local and small.«147 A large former paint factory in Northwest London was converted into an art space by the American architect Max Gordon on behalf of the Saatchis148 and housed the collection first and introduced, with sharp contrast to the 'small' London art world, the minimalist loft-like flair of New York City and New York art to London. A former commercial space where colors had been made was remodeled along the lines of refurbished, previously commercial American warehouses to show salable art from a collector and advertising 145 See Alison Fendley: Saatchi & Saatchi: the Inside Storz. Darby, 1995. 146 See Darwent 1998 and Blazwick 2010. Instead of »1984’ (Darwent 1998) Stuart Jeffries spoke of »1985’ in his interview with Charles Saatchi. See Stuart Jeffries: What Charles did next [Interview]. The Guardian from 6 September 2006. 147 Hirst in an interview with Haden-Guest 2008, p. 155. 148 See Buck 1997, p. 128. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 62 mogul in a gallery, an art shop. In 2016 Hirst put his new museum, analog to Saatchi’s former paint factory building, in houses that used to be stage design workshops. The history of the buildings fill the new purpose with additional meaning. In contrast to the prevailing British taste, the Saatchis presented a few large-scale works dramatically in a simple, white, but huge room with a concrete floor and overhead lighting. This inspired Hirst and his contemporaries to create large scale installations such as »A Thousand Years« (1990) inspired for instance by Donald Judd149, whose works he saw at the Saatchi Gallery, and to show them in similarly designed warehouses, such as the one for Freeze: »[Saatchi] was just there at the perfect point with a huge fucking space. […] And then Saatchi did the New York Show. I remember walking in and going, 'Hey, my eyes!' The whiteness of it! It just blew me away. And it was so not British. And that just totally inspired all the students. We wanted to show at the Saatchi Gallery immediately. And then we started making work really to fit in there. And that’s when I realized we wouldn’t fit into the art world the way it was. So I just went and got a warehouse, and we did that show.«150 Later labeled »Young British Artists,« a name particularly resonant abroad, these artists tried not to be British, their influences were clearly American and German. For Hirst especially, the show »New York Art Now« from 1987, where he saw Jeff Koons, who became important for his work, was particularly influential151. Saatchi also showed exhibitions of Warhol, Serra, Judd, and Nauman, as well as German greats like Kiefer and Polke. According to Doris Saatchi, Hirst was not alone in his very American-like tendency to create 'great', id est large scale art: »In 1988 I lectured at the Royal College of Art and I was appalled at how careerist the students had become[.] […] They all wanted to get work into the Saatchi Collection, so they were making huge things to fill all those huge spaces. So un-British: well, pace Turner, anyway. We live in a 149 See Hirst’s interview with Mira D’Argenzio in: Eduardo Cicelyn, Mario Codognato and Mirta D’Argenzio (Eds.): Damien Hirst. The Agony and the Ecstasy. Selected works from 1989-2004. Cat. Exh. Museo Archeologico Nazionale. Napoli 2004, p. 72. 150 Hirst im Interview mit Harden-Guest 2008, S. 155. 151 The Saatchi Gallery: New York Art Now (Part 1) life from September 1987 to January 1988. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 63 time that is heavily influenced by advertising and, as we all know, Charles Saatchi is a master of that discipline. The influence is felt in much of the art made today, and, for me, it's soft at the centre. I don't want narrative, but there's a lack of rigor in it.«152 Saatchi wanted to buy Hirst's capstone show in 1989 but Goldsmiths College would not sell it to a collector, just to a gallery. The works therefore went to the Karsten Schubert Gallery, which sold it in turn with a profit to Hirst's dealer, Jay Jopling, a few weeks later.153 The same year, however, Saatchi bought two of Hirst's medical cabinets in the »New Contemporaries« exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London. In 1990, he bought Hirst's »A Thousand Years«, part of the warehouse group exhibition »Modern Medicine« organized by Hirst. The artwork was inspired and bought by Saatchi and his Gallery, who from then on bought Hirst and many of his collegues.154 According to Hirst, Saatchi’s by that time ex-wife Doris bought a Pharmaceutical Cabinet in the same exhibition.155 In retrospect, one can see Saatchi's taste in art as well as a good deal of foresight and calculation. After the 1989 stock market crash and the expensive divorce from his (for his collection) influential wife, Doris in 1988, Saatchi sold most of his collection of first class British, American, and European art and began to purchase works of unknown, young British artists. »The market was overheated and it was a good time to sell' was Saatchi’s laconic explanation of his 1989-91 sell-off«.156In his exhibitions in the late 1980 s, Saatchi initially showed British artists of the recent past such as Freud, Auerbach and Deacon. In 1991, Saatchi read of Hirst’s plans for an art project that the latter wanted to make a piece with a shark. He offered to cover the costs for Hirst. Hirst then created »The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living« for £50,000.157 This tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde became not only Hirst's most famous work, but also the most significant of 152 Hirst im Interview mit Haden-Guest 2008, S. 155. 153 See Hirst’s interview with Mirta D’Argenzio. In: Napoli 2004, p. 68. 154 See Colin Gleadell: Market news: Counter. Online edition of the Telegraph from 17 March 2003. 155 See Hirst’s interview with Mirta D’Argenzio. Napoli 2004, p. 62. 156 Buck 1997, S. 128.Vgl. auch Stallabrass 2006, S. 5. 157 See BBC News: Saatchi mulls £6.25 m shark offer. BBC News online from 23 December 2004. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 64 the group of the 'Young British Artists'.158 Since 1992, Hirst, Sarah Lucas, and others showed in an exhibition called »Young British Artists« at London's Saatchi Gallery, which solidified this label. The artists who were listed as YBAs fluctuated constantly, and today the term is still vague. This exhibition series ran until November 1996, from »Young British Artists I« to »Young British Artists VI,« each at the Saatchi Gallery. Although he made at least 42 million U.S. dollars with art deals in 1996, Saatchi denies purchasing art purely for profit reasons. At least initially, Saatchi publicly invested a lot of money in these still 'cheap' young artists to increase their awareness, reputation, and their symbolic and financial value, much as he did with the Saatchi brand. In 1991159, Hirst met his future gallerist Jeremy »Jay« Jopling. Then a student, Jopling organized an art auction for charity in his final year at Edinburgh University and managed to convince »hip« artists like Basquiat, Haring and Schnabel to donate works. The auction brought in 500,000 dollars.160 Born in 1963, Jopling was an Eton graduate who went on to study fine arts and own a gallery. He was (besides Saatchi) the most influential non-artist-personality of the Young British Artists (»Some London art dealers and collectors, such as Jay Jopling and Charles Saatchi, were more famous than their artists« 161). He is still the dealer for Hirst and many former YBAs. Jopling's ascent to über-dealer is closely linked to the rise of his old friend Hirst. Beginning in 1991, Hirst's works were shown in many international solo and group exhibitions, including one in 1993 in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale and in 1996 at the famous Gagosian Gallery in New York. From then on, Larry Gagosian was Hirst’s permanent American dealer.162 158 See Richard Brooks: Hirst’s shark is sold to America. Online edition of the Times from 16 January 2005. 159 Muir writes (p. 37) that they worked together starting in 1991, Thümmel sets it in 1990 (p. 18). In 2012, Hagan wrote: »At a Serpentine gallery show that same year [1991, note UB], Hirst met Jay Jopling, who would soon become his dealer.« 160 Ibid. p. 37. 161 Stryker McGuire: This time I've come to bury Cool Britannia. The Observer from 29 March 2009. 162 »No Sense of Absolute Corruption« was Hirst’s forst exhibition in the Gagosian Gallery in New York in 1996. Up until the publication of this work, the relationship has yet to be terminated. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 65 What Makes a British Artist in the 1990 s a Young British Artist? The phenomenon YBA or yBa is older than the term. No manifestos exist and there was no official formation of a group with the name YBA. There is a difference between the description »young British artists« in a text about art (already mentioned in The Burlington Magazine in 1917) or (parts of ) titles of exhibitions called »Young British Artists« (Museum of Modern Art, New York, July 1968 – October 1969163) and the phenomenon that happened in London, not really in the whole of Britain, in the late 1980 s and 1990 s. The English Wikipedia entry on YBA states that Michael Corris coined the term »young British artists« in ArtForum in May 1992. Corris mentions »young British artists« only in a footnote and describes them as »semiabstract, […] blandly narrative and […] environmentally anecdotal«.164 A description in a footnote is far from coining a name for a group of artists although Corris did actually refer to the phenomenon YBA. Already in March 1992, three months earlier, Saatchi entitled his exhibition »Young British Artists I«. The continuity of naming six exhibitions »Young British Artists« actually established the term for the phenomenon. The phenomenon »Young British Artists« points to the origin (and main use) of the term in advertising and journalism. It was inaccurate from the start. Cerith Wyn Evans was 34 in 1992, was that still »young«? The term »young« pointed to a (then) contemporary phenomenon, whose subjects were at that time no longer »young« around the year 2000. The soon-tobe-datedness is part of the term. It works in contrast with »older« British artists and points to the fact that since the days of the »London School« (also a highly problematic term) with Bacon and Freud, or 1960 s British Pop Art with Hockney and Hamilton, not much happened in the UK in the way of contemporary art in the 1970 s (Gilbert & George, Richard Long, Anthony Caro) and »80 s (Julian Opie, Tony Cragg), which was also recognized outside the UK. The soon-to-be-datedness also points to the purpose of the term; it was not a term for art history books or specialist literature but rather c) 163 According to Thümmel, the term Young British Artist had already emerged in 1966 on the occasion of the Venice Biennial. See Thümmel 1997, p. 17. 164 Michael Corris: British? Young? Invisible? w/Attitude?, in: ArtForum, May 1992, p. 109. (retrieved 23 February 2017). Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 66 something meant to advertise something today or report about something today without thinking about tomorrow. Why Young British Art? What is British? British born? As stated in the previous chapter, the YBAs looked at American and German Art of the 1980 s, concerning the size of the artworks or ways of presenting them in an art space. They used conceptual ideas and painterly influences of artists like Kippenberger, Koons, Kiefer, Polke, Judd, Schnabel. YBA was never nationalist art although it emerged at the same time as Cool Britannia and Britpop (see next chapter), which both have »Brit[ain]« in the name, as well. The acronym term »YBA« (or »yBa«) was not used until the end of 1994.165 Between Damien Hirst’s Freeze group show of Goldsmith students in 1988 and Saatchi’s First YBA show (and also later) this still nameless phenomenon was sometimes alternatively called BritArt or Britart, the artists the BritPack or Brit Artists, New Boomers or New (British) Art, or, as Stallabrass alone called it in 1999 – High Art Lite. Young British Art is usually slightly conceptual or painterly (painting or referring to painting), often figurative and provocative. The art of the Young British Artists publicly provoked taboo infringements and scandals through the representation of connections between sex, violence, and social misery, and addiction and crime. Often, their works contain ironic references to earlier art history, for instance Da Vinci in the work of Sam Taylor-Wood and Goya in that of the Chapman brothers, but also in the vanguard of the early 20th Century, Pop Art (as in the case of Gavin Turk and Hirst) and advertising (with Sarah Lucas, Angus Fairhurst and Tracey Emin, etc.). However, all this was also true for most contemporary art in the 1990 s. The term Young British Artists is a lowest common denominator for a group of emerging (Young) artists who mainly just came out of art school in London (British), whose art does not have much in common with one another; apart from the fact that it looks like mass media would report on it and like an ad man would buy it. The answer to the above question of what makes a British artist in the 1990 s a Young British Artist requires approaching the subject through a means other than the artworks. While the name started with Saatchi, the phenomenon itself, at the time still nameless, began earlier, in the 1980 s. In retrospect, the warehouse show Freeze (1988) marked the prominent start. However, there was a less promi- 165 Muir 2009, p. 122. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 67 nent predecessor organized by Angus Fairhurst, featuring himself, Damien Hirst, Abigail Lane, and Mat Collishaw in a little show called Progress by Degree at the Bloomsbury Gallery of the University of London (Institute of Education)166 shortly before Freeze (6 August 1988 – 29 September 1988). Shortly afterwards (15 November – 7 December 1988) gallerist Karsten Schubert exhibited Ian Davenport, Gary Hume, and Michael Landy, who all exhibited in Freeze, in his gallery. So YBAs’ start was both institutional (Bloomsbury Gallery of the University of London) and self-organized (Angus Fairhurst). Many self-organized warehouse shows (starting with Freeze) went on to be picked up, some immediately, by gallerists (Schubert et al. in 1988, and in 1993 by Jay Jopling) and a prominent collector (Saatchi), who attended Freeze and whose wife at the time had bought a Hirst at a degree-show at an earlier time. Schubert and Saatchi exhibited other artists as well. Institutions like the ICA (with their New Contemporaries shows since 1989) and the Serpentine Gallery showed some artists, who were later called YBAs, in group shows early on (Hirst, Glenn Brown) – as well as many others who are not necessarily considered to be(-come) YBAs. So warehouse shows like Modern Medicine and Gambler (both curated by Billie Sellman and Carl Freedman, partly with Hirst) and East Country Yard Show (curated by Henry Bond and Sarah Lucas) were, together with the two aforementioned self-organized shows, my starting point for a more systematic approach to the question above. The Serpentine Gallery, a public institution, had already shown YBAs avant la lettre before Saatchi started his series of exhibitions in March 1992. In 1993 and 1994, a few institutional shows took place (where YBAs were shown together with other artists): Minky Manky at the South London Gallery, curated by Carl Freedman, and again at the Serpentine, Hirst’s Some Went Mad, Some Ran away. Artists who participated in Progress by Degree, Freeze, Modern Medicine, Gambler, Lucky Kunst, etc. also participated in group-shows at the Serpentine Gallery, in two big shows in the US (12 British Artists and Brilliant!). In the early 1990 s many of those artists (and others) were in the Saatchi Collection, some were shown in his Young British Artists at the Saatchi Gallery I–IV exhibitions between 1992 and 1996 and/or were part of his Sensation show (1996) at the Royal Academy. This institution was a conservative stronghold 166 (retrieved 4 January 2017). See also Muir 2009, p. 18. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 68 of the arts. Therefore, Sensation was regarded as a kind of accolade by the establishment for the YBAs. The exhibition, which went on to tour internationally, was accompanied by scandals and big media coverage. Sensation is the biggest YBA show to date. 110 works by 42 artists (20 Goldsmith, 7 Royal College graduates) were represented who were an average of 35.5 years old at that time and graduated between 1981 and 1994. With over 350,000 unique visitors in London, it was also successfully shown in New York, Berlin, and Canberra. The most quoted works of the YBAs might be Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) and the tent, titled Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995 by Tracey Emin from 1995, purchased by Saatchi shortly before Sensation. Further works often cited in connection with the show include Jake and Dinos Chapmans’ life-size figures of children with genitals in the face (Tragic Anatomies, 1996) and a self-portrait by Marc Quinn cast from his own frozen blood, entitled Self from 1991. Most media coverage during Sensation, however, centered on Marcus Harvey's Myra, the larger than life portrait of Myra Hindley, the notorious British woman who was convicted of multiple counts of child murder in 1966. Harvey compiled her portrait as a mosaic of children's hand plaster casts. When Sensation moved to New York, Chris Ofili’s painting The Holy Virgin Mary caused a scandal and was defaced/vandalized by an elderly visitor who smeared white paint over it, claiming the image to be »blasphemous. « It is tricky however, to accept Saatchi's collection or Sensation as a maxim, because Saatchi always sold artworks. The collection never consistently includes works by the same artists. Of these approximately 100 artists in all these early warehouse and institutional exhibitions who were young (that is born after 1955) British artists, more than twenty went to Goldsmith, twelve to the Royal College of Art. Goldsmith graduates participated earlier in group shows, so Muir called them first generation YBAs and those who attended Royal College second generation.167 Karsten Schubert exhibited 20 of these artists between 1988 and 1996, Jay Jopling 13 of them between 1993 and 2000. *** 167 Muir 2009, p. 130 f. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 69 Reasonably defined through their art school, Saatchi, and institutional and warehouse exhibitions, YBAs were later awarded prizes: Between 1992 and 1999, five artists who are counted among the YBAs were awarded the main British newcomer award Turner Prize, and almost ten were nominated. Between 1989 and 2005 altogether about 20 of all these artists were nominated or won the Turner Prize (Hirst and Rachel Whiteread were nominated and won, Hirst in 1995 for his formaldehyde sculpture Mother and Child Divided after being nominated in 1992 for The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.168) The first graph (figure 1) shows important/often mentioned early warehouse shows and institutional shows as well as the most important collector (respectively?), furthermore two gallerists along with their involvement between 1988 and 2000. In the case of curators of the early warehouse shows who also curated institutional shows a few years later, I marked their exhibitions with the same color. Of the ten institutional exhibitions between 1988 and 1996, four were abroad, two in the Serpentine Gallery. 168 See Thümmel 1997, p. 18-19. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 70 A. FAIRHURST D. HIRST M. COLLISHAW A. LANE G. HUME S. LUCAS M. LANDY A. GALLACCIO D. DENIS S. PATTERSON I. DAVENPORT A. BULLOCH F. RAE M. HARVEY J. SIMPSON R. WHITEREAD H. BOND M. QUINN LANGLANS/ BELL S. TAYLOR-WOOD G. WEARING G. BROWN M. WALLINGER M. MALONEY T. EMIN C. OFILI CHAPMAN BROTH. C. WYN EVANS G. TURK S. RUSHTON WILSON SIS. Y. SHONIBARE A. CHODZKO D. ALMOND PRO G RESS BY D EG REE - 1988 FREEZE - 1988 EA ST CO U N TRY YA RD SH O W - 1990 G A M BLER - 1990 M O D ERN M ED ICIN E - 1990 BRO KEN EN G LISH - 1991 TW ELVE BRITISH A RTISTS - 1992, U SA A PERTO - 1993, ITA LY SO M E W EN T M A D ... - 1994 A FETE W O RSE TH A N D EATH - 1993 BRITISH A RT SH O W III - 1990 M IN KY M A N KY - 1995 G EN ERA L RELEA SE - 1995, ITA LY BRILLIA N T - 1995, U SA FU LL H O U SE - 1996, G ERM A N Y LIVE LIFE - 1996, FRA N CE SA ATCH I CO LLEC TIO N - 1988-1994 W H ITE CU BE G A LLERY - 1993-2000, JAY JO PLIN G VEN ICE BIEN N A LE - 1997-2015, ITA LY M O VIN G TA RG ETS - 1997, BO O K TU RN ER PRIZE - 1988-2015, N O M IN ATED /W O N CBE, O BE, RA - A FTER 2000 RO YA L CO LLEG E O F A RT G O LD SM ITH CO LLEG E KA RSTEN SCH U BERT G A LLERY - 1988-2000 TECH N IQ U E A N G LA ISE - 1991, BO O K SEN SATIO N - 1996-1997 CO RPU S D ELIC TI - 1995, D EN M A RK YBA @ SA ATCH I CO LLEC TIO N I-VI, 1992-1996 A. FAIRHURST D. HIRST M. COLLISHAW A. LANE G. HUME S. LUCAS M. LANDY A. GALLACCIO D. DENIS S. PATTERSON I. DAVENPORT A. BULLOCH F. RAE M. HARVEY J. SIMPSON R. WHITEREAD H. BOND M. QUINN LANGLANS/ BELL S. TAYLOR-WOOD G. WEARING G. BROWN M. WALLINGER M. MALONEY T. EMIN C. OFILI CHAPMAN BROTH. C. WYN EVANS G. TURK S. RUSHTON WILSON SIS. Y. SHONIBARE A. CHODZKO D. ALMOND Figure 1: Institutional shows, warehouse shows, gallerists, collector of the YBAs (1988-2000). 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 71 Figure 2: Important YBA exhibitions, art schools, collections, awards, gallerists, books, and the artists associated with them. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 72 The second graph (figure 2) shows which artists fulfill the most common criteria of being a YBA, shades of green show their affiliation with Saatchi, yellow Goldsmith graduates, and dark red those of the Royal College. Early warehouse exhibitions are in shades of blue, international institutional exhibitions in shades of brown-orange, while honors and prizes like the Turner Prize or Venice Biennale participations, etc. are in shades of grey. Hirst meets the most criteria; he is the most typically YBA – followed by Gary Hume, Sarah Lucas, Mat Collishaw, and Angus Fairhurst in the first YBA generation. Tracey Emin, Gillian Wearing, and Sam Taylor-Wood lead the second generation, followed by the Chapman brothers, Chris Ofili, and Mark Wallinger. Glenn Brown, Wallinger, and Marcus Harvey, though Goldsmith graduates, appear to be typical »Saatchi artists« who were in none of the early warehouse exhibitions. Marc Quinn and Langhans/Bell, important Saatchi artists, did not need much other criteria to become significant YBAs. Angus Fairhurst is one of the significant YBAs who has never been collected or shown by Saatchi, and Emin boycotted Saatchi as well. He had to buy her »tent« on the secondary market to show it in Sensation.169 The third graph (figure 3) visualizes romantic relationships between some of the often-mentioned YBAs (continuous line) but also the relationship of those who shared a studio or flat (dotted line). Besides attending college together, exhibiting together, and featuring one another in exhibitions, many YBAs also collaborated artistically in the sense of creating collective pieces of art with each other, for instance Fairhurst with Hirst and later with Lucas. These three graphs show tendencies, they emphasize certain aspects and neglect others: Hirst could have been in many more shows, especially of the »second generation«, but he choose to do more solo exhibitions at that time.170 He was asked to represent the UK in the Venice Biennale in 1999 or to become a Royal Academian but refused.171 There were other collectors besides or even before Saatchi became what he is today in retrospect for the YBAs. There was, for instance, also Peter Fleissig, Eric Frank, Ralph Burnet, Stuart Evans or Bernhard Starkmann. In addition to Jopling and Schubert there were more art dealers, for instance Prue O’Day who showed Dinos 169 Muir 2009, p. 202. 170 See Muir 2009, p. 131. 171 Cooper 2012, 83. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 73 Chapman, Sam Taylor-Wood, Abigail Lane in 1991172 or Maureen Paley (Interim Art), who showed for instance Gillian Wearing, Bond, Bulloch.173 Leslie Waddington (Waddington Galleries) also showed Fiona Rae and Ian Davenport, but never specialized in YBAs.174 Of course there were many more warehouse, foreign, or institutional exhibitions at that time and other publications I could have consulted as well. However, to show a tendency these – which are quoted often – might already be enough. Figure 3: Romantic relationships between YBAs (solid line) and shared studio space (dashed line).175 YBAs after 2000 Fulfilling most criteria to be an YBA in the 1990 s was a guarantee of further success for Hirst, Lucas, and Hume. For instance, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin, Gillian Wearing, or Rachel Whiteread fulfilled fewer criteria that Fairhurst and Collishaw. Nevertheless they are more famous today (Emin at auction i) 172 Cooper 2012, p. 36. 173 Cooper 2012, p. 37. 174 For details on YBA dealers and collectors see Louisa Buck: Moving Targets, London 1997. 175 All information from Muir 2009. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 74 and in the press, Fiona Rae as a professor at the Royal Academy and as CBE) and/or more recognized (Ofili with a retrospective in the Tate and as CBE, Whiteread with Tate commissions and as CBE). Marc Quinn attended neither Goldsmith nor the Royal College nor did he get close to the Turner Prize. He was never part of any of the early warehouse exhibitions, but his work Self is one of the icons of YBA. Nearly the same applies to Marcus Harvey and his painting Myra. Hirst, Fairhurst and Lucas had a group exhibition at the Tate in 2004. Hirst and Ofili both had major mid-career retrospectives at the Tate; in 2012 and 2010. Most YBAs are in the Tate collection. Since 1997 the British Council chose YBAs to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, first Whiteread, then Hume, Wallinger, Ofili, Emin and finally Lucas in 2015. In 2006 the British Council showed YBAs in a big group show in China called Aftershock: Contemporary British Art 1990-2006, including the Chapmans, Emin, Hirst, Hume, Lucas, Quinn, Taylor-Wood, Wallinger, Wearing, and two others. Another indicator of the importance of YBAs after 2000 is the Fourth Plinth, a commissioned rolling program of temporary artworks on the empty forth plinth in Trafalgar Square in London. The Forth Plinth commission gets broad media coverage every year. It ran from 1999 until 2001 as The Fourth Plinth Project, and since 2005 as The Fourth Plinth Commission. Winners with YBA background were Wallinger, Whiteread and Yinka Shonibare. Wearing, Emin, Hume, Whiteread, Ofili, and Rae became Royal Academics, OBEs or CBEs. Since 2003, Charles Saatchi showed works by Young British Artists and a greater Hirst exhibition in his new Gallery, but then turned to other artists, probably because he had a falling out with Hirst in the same year. Saatchi had asked Hirst for proposals for hanging installments and exhibitions of his artwork, but later considered none of these proposals.176 Saatchi also presented a small car Hirst designed for charity as a full-fledged work of art. Hirst broke ties and removed the exhibition from his CV.177 In 2004, major works 176 Dalya Alberge: Shark gets away as Hirst feuds with Saatchi. The Guardian Online from 26 November 2003. 177 See Fiachra Gibbons: Hirst buys his art back from Saatchi. The Guardian Online from 27 November 2003. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 75 by well-known representatives of the YBAs such as Hirst, Emin, and the Chapman brothers burned up in Saatchi's depot in East London.178 Selected works from Damien Hirst’s extensive collection, which he calls Murderme (a morbid pun on 'moderne'), were presented to the public in an exhibition called In The Darkest Hour There May Be Light in November 2006. In Hirst’s own museum, the Newport Street Gallery in London, which opened in 2015, he started showing alternating one-man-exhibitions from his collection, after John Hoyland and Jeff Koons he exhibited also a former YBA, Gavin Turk, in 2016. Among the artists from the Murderme collection were Francis Bacon, Jeff Koons, Banksy, and Andy Warhol, but also one-third of the exhibition was made up of artists who were formerly known as YBAs. In their brief biographies in the Darkest Hour exhibition catalogue the term 'Young British Artists' is not mentioned once.179 This can be seen as a distancing move and reflects the fact that the term was applied more from the outside then self-selected and is used more in retrospect today: the continued international success and regularly exhibiting artists of this main group are no longer 'Young', but rather all in their 50 s. The term »Young British Artists« thus defines a bygone era, namely British art in the 1990 s. The origin of the term (coined by an ad man), its simplicity, its soon-tobe-datedness or its vagueness (as lowest common denominator of diverging artists and artworks) all point to advertising and the art market. Established by an ad-man-turned-art-collector who used art (also) for speculation, first shown in former warehouses, inspired by a gallery that was a paint factory, by artists who financed their first group shows themselves, outside of institutions (which were weakened by Thatcher) and commercial galleries, who did their own PR, these me-inc.-artists mostly showed art that is instantly understandable, provocative, that often points to its commercial origin in tabloid news, TV, billboards, and the like. Young British Art is art that an ad man would buy. Although this characterization sounds pejorative, it is meant to 178 See James Meek: Art into ashes. The Guardian Online from 23 September 2004. 179 See Damien Hirst: In the Darkest Hour There May Be Light. Works from Damien Hirst’s MurderMe Collection. Cat. Exh. Serpentine Gallery. London 2006. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 76 be rather descriptive and can also be seen as a mere contrast to typical artworks or artists that were there (»British«) at that time before (»Young«). Blair, BritPop and Cool Britannia In the same year as Sensation, the 18 year run of Tory leadership came to an end, a fact celebrated (at first!) by many creative people. The young British Labour Prime Minister, the charismatic Tony Blair was received enthusiastically. Under his government initially there was economic growth and enhancement of both the education and health care systems. Blair introduced among other things a minimum wage and human rights legislation. »Blair didn't just represent the end of Tory dominance; he represented the beginning of something, too. The electorate, especially perhaps those middle Englanders who voted Labour for the first time, saw him as their skywalker, the man who would lead post-imperial Britain, post-Thatcher Britain, into the uncharted 21st century.«180 Since 1994, parallel to the YBAs, the so-called Britpop bands like Blur, Oasis, and Pulp, became famous in pop music. Around 1996, Hirst, who had studied with Blur and Pulp and who was friends with Oasis, as the foremost YBA, became a celebrity himself.181 Since the mid-1990 s, the term Cool Britannia (parallel to the concept of Swinging London in the 1960 s) was used to describe the trendy British pop culture before 2000 and was particularly exploited by the government. The Observer wrote, in retrospect, about the 1996 beginnings of Cool Britannia: »In the fashion world, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design was the place to learn the trade. The Paris fashion houses Givenchy and Dior installed two of its graduates, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, as their top couturiers. Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger were all putting stores in Bond Street. Eurostar had brought the continent right into the heart of London. Arriving in droves, young advertising creative types were coming to London to hone their skills and soak up its’ by then famous nightlife. Clubs such as the Ministry of Sound, then edgy and fresh, were pulling in young people from Europe and beyond. Immigrants from around the world ii) 180 Stryker McGuire: This time I've come to bury Cool Britannia. The Observer from 29 March 2009. 181 Muir 2009, p. 186. 3) London at the Turn of the Millennium 77 pumped new skills, innovation, enthusiasm and just plain hard work into a labour-hungry, creatively starved economy. […] Within days there stood John Major at the Lord Mayor of London's banquet, embracing 'Cool Britannia' and boasting that 'our theaters' give the lead to Broadway, our pop culture rules the airwaves, our country has taken over the fashion catwalks of Paris'. Not that it did Major much good. It was Tony Blair who benefited from the changes that were sweeping through London and Britain a dozen years ago. […] The language of class warfare would fade, replaced by talk of 'community', which sounded good even if not everybody could figure out what it meant. New Labour, New Britain, as the Labour party slogan said. Onward and upward.«182 The term 'Cool Britannia' is almost identical to the title of the patriotic song »Rule Britannia« of 1740. Originally from a 1960 s pop song, at the beginning of 1996 it was known as an ice-cream advertising slogan and soon adapted by the media.183 The history of the term Cool Britannia is representative of our consumer society. Catchy lines from pop songs and advertising slogans are recycled to »rebrand« a country, an economic term in economic times: »Rebranding is the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a differentiated (new) position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors.«184 Already at the turn of the millennium, people in Britain realized this was just old wine in new bottles; Blair's politics were no better or even much different than those of Thatcher. Blair's 'rebranding Britain'185 attempts were seen by many as a »pragmatic entry onto a socially sugar-coated Thatchercourse«.186 Around 2000, Britpop was no longer fashionable and the Young British Artists were no longer young or an associated group. 182 Stryker McGuire: This time I've come to bury Cool Britannia. The Observer from 29 March 2009. 183 Reiner Luyken: England sagt man nicht mehr. Die Zeit. Number 18/1998. 184 L. Muzellec und M. C. Lambkin: Corporate Rebranding: the art of destroying, transferring and recreating brand equity? In: European Journal Of Marketing 40, 7/8 2006, p. 803-824. 185 Klein 2000, p. 70. 186 Seriousguy: Bye, bye, cool Britannia? Anmerkungen zu Thomas Assheuer. Reader’s article blog (Leserartikel Blog) on the Zeit Online website 12 May 2010. Ulrich Blanché: Damien Hirst. Gallery Art in a Material World 78

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Damien Hirst constantly faces the accusation that he creates merely popular, salable, or easily consumable art. However, this accusation of “selling out” is closely linked to the great popularity that he enjoys. Discussions about the aesthetic value of art and the importance of consumer culture are incorporated into his works and highlight how the artist has been able to exemplify the consumer culture of our age. This study analyzes works from different periods of his oeuvre, such as the “Natural History” series, the Spot Paintings, the “Diamond Skull“, and Hirst’s collaborations with Street Artist Banksy. They are examined in the context of materials, iconography, and history of ideas with regard to their framing of consumer culture. This is one of few books on Hirst not published by the artist himself or under his influence. In this academic study, Ulrich Blanché also gives a compact overview of the Young British Artists in London in the 1990s.