Beginner's luck. My first-ever letter to the Economist ("Personal Touches" ) was kindly published, albeit in edited form, by The Economist newspaper in this week's global print edition. It was a tongue-in-cheek dig at someone I consider the most overhyped "artist" in the world. I was compelled to write it after their thought-provoking piece on Damien Hirst a couple of weeks ago ("Hands up for Hirst"). In case you are vaguely interested, the unedited version is published here.
'At least Mr Hirst is refreshingly honest in his admission that he sells his art "with the goal to make the primary market more expensive”. If only a few of Wall Street’s IPO and CDO salesmen had been equally so, a crisis may well have been averted.
On a more serious note, Mr Hirst may be providing a very important lesson about the enormous intangible value of certain works of art which may arise from the sense of interaction with the celebrity artist himself. Those buying a dead half-cow or a large box of pills might indeed be prepared to pay a substantial premium for the honour of a handshake, a smile or a nod of thanks by the artist in return for extra cash. This direct connection with the artist is obviously lost in the secondary market. Which brings me to an idea for Mr Hirst’s next exhibition, one where the connection might be allowed to persist. He might call it “Self-Preservation”, an exhibition of bits of Mr Hirst in formaldehyde? A celebration of his art deserves nothing less.