Damien Hirst 1965 –

On September 9th, Damien Hirst will begin to burn about 5,000 pieces of his art.

The move is a calculated act that he calls The Currency. Hirst created 10,000 small oil paintings on paper that he linked to corresponding NFTs in 2021. Buyers who bought the NFTs for $2000 were given a choice: keep the NFT or trade it for the physical painting. Holding on to both is not an option.

Many of Hirst’s creations have focused on the relationship between the art market and the money market. In 2007, he unveiled For the Love of God, a platinum cast of an 18th-century human skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds. The work sold for around $100 million. One of the questions that the work brought up was how a work of art is viewed; by it’s intrinsic value, the cost of material, its historic value, or any of the other practical and emotional values that humans place on each work.

In a March interview with the Art Newspaper, Hirst said, “This project explores the boundaries of art and currency — when art changes and becomes a currency, and when currency becomes art. It’s not a coincidence that governments use art on coins and notes. They do this to help us believe in money. Without art, it’s hard for us to believe in anything.”

According to Heni, the NFT tech company that is working with Hirst, 5,149 physical artworks were exchanged and 4,851 NFTs remain. Each work is numbered, each has a unique title. Those that correspond to the remaining NFTs will be displayed, then burned, at Hirst’s London gallery. A few will be burned every day, beginning on September 9th. There will be a closing event during Frieze Week in October when the remaining paintings will be set on fire.

Hirst’s works are always thoughtful and provocative. They have served him well. According to the 2020 British Sunday Times Rich List, Hirst has a property portfolio worth about $175 million. His estate includes a mansion overlooking Regent’s Park, and a 2,000-piece art collection that included works by Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Brian Donnelly aka KAWS 1974 –

Brian Donnelly, the artist known as KAWS, was the guest of honor at this years annual Hirshhorn Ball. The theme of the Ball was a celebration of Pop Art and contemporary artists who pushed the boundaries of art and culture.

Hirshhorn Director, Melissa Chiu said of KAWS: “He’s probably one of the most agile artists we know, being able to collaborate with not just other artists, but those in the fashion and music worlds.”

“We look forward to collaborating with him in the future.” she added. Hopefully, she meant that the Hirshhorn will add a KAWS’ sculpture to its collection.

The award was presented to KAWS by reggaeton superstar J Balvin, who is a friend and collector of KAWS’ work.

General Mills has just released four limited-edition Monster Cereals with box designs by KAWS. Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry and Fruit Brute characters have KAWS’ signature Xed-out eyes. A code on the back of specially marked boxes give fans of the cereals a chance to win a set of collectible monster toys designed by KAWS.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the works of Damien Hirst and KAWS available at VFA.


References:
Harriet Sherwood. Damien Hirst to burn thousands of his paintings to show art as ‘currency’. The Guardian. July 26, 2022.
Eileen Kinsella. Burn, Baby, Burn! Damien Hirst Will Set His Own Drawings Aflame in the Culmination of His Grand NFT Experiment ‘The Currency’. July 26, 2022.
Kate Brown. Damien Hirst Is Still the UK’s Richest Artist—With a Net Worth of $384 Million, According to the Sunday Times’s ‘Rich List’. Artnet News. May 18, 2020.
Roger Carlin. Is a KAWS Celeb Sighting Cause for Speculation? Smithsonian Magazine. June 2, 2022.
Halisia Hubbard. General Mills’ classic Monster Cereals are back with a reimagined look. NPR/Pop Culture. August 11, 2022.
Nasir Akalvi. General Mills taps New York pop artist KAWS for monster-themed cereal revival. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. August 2, 2022.