Art for Art’s Sake – Damien Hirst?

Damien Hirst Alexander McQueen
Damien Hirst for Alexander McQueen
Limited edition silk scarf.
Sometimes you can’t help but wonder what a critic from a past age would make of our contemporary world. Although not the first to use the expression ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, I expect the Victorian writer, Walter Pater would be amazed at out current convoluted interpretations of ‘Art’. In his book, ‘The Renaissance’, published in 1873, he wrestles with the contemplation and definitions of beauty in a broader discussion of aesthetics. His book is partly a response to the 19th-century changes in manufacturing which brought about factory-based mass production. In his Chapter “Luca Della Robbia”, Pater discusses Italian Renaissance sculptors and their reinterpretation of the work of the Ancient Greeks. Pater draws our attention to the difference between the Ancient Greeks and the Renaissance Italians and gives us his Victorian’s view on the importance of individualism and personal expression through this extract about Michelangelo:

To him [Michelangelo], lover and student of Greek sculpture as he was, work which did not bring what was inward to the surface, which was not concerned with individual expression, with individual character and feeling, the special history of the special soul, was not worth doing at all.

Silk-Scarf-Art2Silk-Scarf-Art1Victorian Pater was looking for an artist to bring something of their inner self to their work. I think we would agree that Damien Hirst understands the value of confidently expressing himself. Although, it is hard to know whether it’s his inner self. He, as an individual almost becomes the brand, certainly his name is. However, I was still surprised to see these digitally printed silk scarves displayed in an art gallery window. They are branded Damien Hirst for Alexander McQueen. I don’t know about Art for Art’s Sake, perhaps Brand for Brand’s Sake. Fashion Houses have long traded on the designer being the brand, but I thought these limited editions scarves interesting blurred the lines between art and fashion.
Hirst for McQueen

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

8 thoughts on “Art for Art’s Sake – Damien Hirst?”

  1. I have wondered about the appearance of skull images on so many fashion items these day – clothes and jewelry. Even children’s clothing lines are decorated with what once was the domaine of biker gear. The trend has stayed around a while and I’m not sure what if anything it says about society. I find these scarves gaudy but I know art is very personal so while I wouldn’t wear a skull clearly many would and do. Thanks -interesting post.

    1. Twenty years ago Hirst was producing provocative work to challenge Western society’s inability to talk about death and I suppose his skull pieces are on that continuum. The late Alexander McQueen in a ‘Drapers’ article of 2010, said “It is important to look at death because it is a part of life. It is a sad thing, melancholy but romantic at the same time. It is the end of a cycle—everything has to end. The cycle of life is positive because it gives room for new things.”
      It would appear from this that a collaboration between Hirst and the McQueen brand seemed a logical fit. Although I think layering skull motifs all over the place seems an obvious and lazy way to be a bit edgy.

    1. Ah – I’m not sure about Hirst – I don’t know whether we should believe all the hype offered up for public consumption. Much of his attributed commentary has an inauthentic quality.

    1. Yes – but he’s sure brilliant at one thing – he was 368th in last year’s Sunday Times Rich List worth an estimated £215 million making him the UK’s richest living artist. I suppose I’m old fashioned as I like to think of artists starving in a garret, well not quite, but certainly not multi-millionaires. Doesn’t feel right does it?

  2. Hirst has always seemed something of a controversy monger and I think the skull motif fits the bill in this sense. Having said that Hirst’s ‘For the Love of God’ is one of the most striking pieces of modern art I can think of. Likewise, McQueen was a master of dramatics in his fashion creations but had the talent to pull it off, so to speak, so I think the fit is perfect – if anyone can get away with it, it’s the pair of them 🙂

    1. I certainly agree with your comment regarding McQueen. He was a master in more ways than one and understood the nuts and bolts as well as the need for showmanship. However, ‘For the Love of God’ seems to me to be rather derivative. A skull – THE memento mori (for centuries), a skull – the standard doodle for a multitude of angst-ridden teenagers and finally a skull – oo such an edgy motif from pirates to hell’s angels. The more I’ve looked at Hirst’s idea the more I think he’s really joking and attempting to wind up the art world. Although covered in diamonds the whole thing is just ugly enough not to be decorative therefore it is worthy of an art critic’s defence. Reduce the scale, think charm bracelet – profound art, I think not.

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