Almine Rech Gallery, one of Paris’s foremost galleries, opened its first New York location more than a year ago on the Upper East Side, bringing with it a unique program that mixes a strong artist roster with a consistently adventurous curatorial project. For its most recent venture, the gallery has brought together key figures from the canon of 20th century Western art for Words Without Thoughts Never to Heaven Go. Adapting its title from a line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the exhibition investigates ways artists use text as an allegorical element. Serving as a chronological and thematic starting point to the exhibition is Être ou ne pas être, Picasso’s 1912 painting considered as one of the foremost examples of appropriation of text in modern painting. Declaring “to be or not be” in French with gouache on paper, Picasso not only pays homage to one of the most emblematic texts ever written, but he also questions the mimetic essence of a painting. Can a painting of words serve to depict an image?
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White Cube Gallery, London
Gagosian Gallery, New York
London and Devon, England
Leeds College of Art and Design
Goldsmiths, University of London
Hirst’s work challenges the boundaries that exist between art, science, pop culture and the media. He confronts issues such as mortality and brevity of life in pieces such as his “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” which involved a 14-foot long tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde. His first work involving any sort of animal was called “A Thousand Years,” which was a large glass case containing a rotting cow’s head with maggots and flies feeding off it. Hirst is the most prominent of the Young British Artists movement during the 1990’s.
During his years at Goldsmiths College, he curated an independent student show called “Freeze” which was visited by several imporant collectors including Charles Saatchi. Saatchi and Hirst had a symbiotic relationship as collector and artist from about 1992-2003. When the new Saatchi Gallery opened in County Hall, London with a Hirst retrospective, the artist was not pleased with the way certain works were displayed, including a Mini Cooper automobile he had decorated for charity. He bought back 12 works from Saatchi through his dealer Jay Jopling.
From 1992-2003, during his Saatchi years, Hirst gained worldwide criticism and acclaim for his work. He was included in the Venice Bienniale in 1993, won the Turner Prize in 1995, had an exhibit at Gagosian Gallery in 1996, was included in an exhibit at the Royal Academy in London and published his autobiography, “I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now”. He was also involved in several lawsuits involving vandalism of his work and copyright issues.
In 2004, Gagosian negotiated the sale of the “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” from Saatchi to collector Steven Cohen for $12 million, who in in turn donated it to MoMA. With the exception of Jasper Johns, this was the most expensive work by a living artist ever sold.
Hirst was relatively low-key after 2004, with the exception of several solo exhibits. In 2007, He created a diamond-encrusted skull entitled “For the Love of God” and was exhibited by White Cube Gallery in London. After several months, it was sold for the asking price of $100 million to an anonymous investment group, in which Hirst remained a stake. Hirst’s propensity to control the exhibition style of his work and his tight control of his reputation can be seen in his involvement in this investment. It is also recollective of his relationship with Saatchi.
More info about the artist coming soon.
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