Art in Print

Damien Hirst hopes treasure chest will salvage his career


Damien Hirst spent ten years and millions of pounds funding the salvage of treasures from a ship which sank 2,000 years ago. Or he may have cast them at an English foundry, thrown them in the sea and retrieved them once they were encrusted in coral.

Whatever the truth is, his first new body of work in years is being launched next month in Venice amid great expectation as Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable. When asked whether his story — essentially that he had financed the salvage of artworks owned by Aulus Calidius Amotan from his ship Apistos, which sank in the 1st or 2nd century AD off the coast of east Africa — was myth or fact, Hirst replied: “Whatever you choose to believe.”

He wanted his Venice exhibition, which will contain works distributed across the two museums in the city owned by François Pinault, the billionaire businessman and owner of Christie’s, to be a “voyage of discovery”. It marks Hirst’s attempt to return to the halcyon heights of the art world and, since he started working on the project in 2008, he has spent a small fortune on the hire of salvage ships and divers.

After the audacity of his 2007 demand of £50 million for a diamond-encrusted skull and record-breaking £100 million-plus sale at Sotheby’s the following year, Hirst has floundered. Prices for his pieces dropped, while his attempts at painting still lifes in 2012 were widely mocked.

His Venice shows, to be unveiled a month before the city’s famous Biennale, are seen as crucial to whether the artist can recapture the buzz that made him the most-talked-about of the generation of Young British Artists.


Via: The Times


Duke of Wellington's 400-piece gilt dinner set laid out for first time


A spectacular dining set given to the Duke of Wellington to celebrate his victory over Napoleon is to go on on display for the first time.

Visitors to Apsley House, Wellington's London home, will be able to see part of the collection of 400 gilded pieces set out on the dining room table in the Waterloo Gallery.

The new display celebrates the 200th anniversary of the commissioning of the dinner service in 1817 by King Frederick William III of Prussia as a gift to honour the Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815.

Some of the 400 pieces of the original set, which took two years to make and is recognised as one of the finest made by the Berlin Porcelain Factory, will be laid out on the table.

They include 34 dessert plates, each depicting a place or event connected to the Duke's life, beginning with his birthplace of Dublin, through to battles in India, Waterloo and the opening of Waterloo Bridge. Fruit baskets, wine coolers, ice-cream pails, vases, soup tureens, candelabra and statues will also be on display in the Waterloo Gallery, a room created to host the Duke's annual Waterloo Banquet.

Josephine Oxley, English Heritage curator, said: "To display the magnificent Prussian dinner service for the first time as it would have been used by the 1st Duke of Wellington is a great privilege "these rich and fascinating items tell the remarkable story of a man who made a great impact on the history of Europe.


Via: The Telegraph


Smartphone art set to go on display at Saatchi Gallery


The Saatchi Gallery has commissioned 10 emerging British artists to work with the latest in phone technology to produce photographs for its new exhibition. Artists including Chris Levine, who hit the headlines when he made a holographic portrait of the Queen in 2004, will take part in the show From Selfie to Self-Expression.

Saatchi Gallery chief executive Nigel Hurst said it would not have been possible to capture the images — which in some cases are blown up in size to one metre high — in such clarity until recently. “The exhibition is about confronting the serious potential of the smartphone as an artistic tool,” he added. “When camera phones were introduced the resolution and picture quality was so poor you could use them for not much more than mugshots. “The whole point really is in this exhibition the artists can move away from selfies and self-portraits to focusing on the world around them.”

The show, opening at Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea on March 31, focuses on the history of self-portraits with work by Tracey Emin, Van Gogh and Rembrandt among those on show.


Via: Evening Standard