How Many Animals Have Died for Damien Hirst’s Art to Live? We Counted.

Article researched and posted in Art World


SERIES: Mostly “Natural History” (1991–2014)
VICTIMS: 13 sheep, 7 Holstein Friesian cows, 5 baby calves, 4 bulls, 3 baby horses (with protruding horns to resemble unicorns), 2 pigs, 1 brown bear, and 1 zebra.
METHODOLOGY: This series encapsulates almost the entirety of Hirst’s career and demonstrates his belief that one must “kill things in order to look at them.” To determine an approximate list of terrestrial mammals that have been used as centerpieces in Hirst’s macabre tableaux—by far his most famous works, and arguably his most important contributions to art history—we counted the critters individually as they appear in his formaldehyde-filled vitrines. Note: Bisected, flayed, or otherwise disemboweled beings are included in this tally, as long as they still retain some degree of flesh; skulls and skeletons are not.


SERIES: “Natural History” (1991–2014); “Fish in a Formaldehyde Tank” (1994); “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever” (2008)
VICTIMS: 17 sharks, 668 individual fish of at least 38 varieties
BODY COUNT: At least 685
METHODOLOGY: For the exact numbers, we methodically counted the aquatic dwellers encased in Hirst’s steel-and-glass vitrines: 627 of the fish are suspended in perspex in a matrix formation—a continuation of Hirst’s obsessive interest in 19th-century classification systems. In a work aptly named Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, 41 fish are juxtaposed with shelves displaying corresponding fish skeletons. We also traced the various iterations of the infamous piece The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. While the original 14-foot tiger shark appeared in the 1997 “Sensation” show, it was improperly preserved and thus replaced in 2006, two years after billionaire art collector Steve Cohen purchased it for $8 million.​ Hirst also reportedly keeps a few specimens on ice, literally, should the need arise.


SERIES: “Fly Paintings and Sculptures” (2002–2008); “Butterfly Colour Paintings” (1989–2009); “Entomology Cabinets and Paintings” (2008–2012); “Kaleidoscope Paintings” (2001–2008)
VICTIMS: 850,000 houseflies plus 111 generations; 45,000 insects of more than 3,000 species; 17,000 butterflies of the Own and Heliconius species; 5 birds.
BODY COUNT: 912,005
METHODOLOGY: The vast majority of the animals in Hirst’s art are of the flying variety, from his ubiquitous butterfly “paintings” to “monochromes” made from heaps of common black houseflies. Given the sheer size of the swarm, assigning a number here was a challenge. For the housefly works—which range from canvases lightly sprinkled in flies to those fully encrusted in them— we employed some rudimentary math, dividing the surface area of each “Fly Painting” by the size of an average housefly (8 millimeters). We then doubled that total to account for the multiple layers in many of the works in this series. The most difficult task was to quantify the number of critters that took part in Hirst’s ‘life-cycle in a box’, A Thousand Years, which breeds maggots that become flies. It is unknown how many flies were first introduced to the science experiment, but female flies lay eggs approximately every six days. Since the work has been exhibited 10 times for a sum total of 111 weeks, we estimate upwards of 111 generations of flies have taken part in Hirst’s simulated circle of life.

As for the butterflies, we got our number the old-fashioned way: by painstakingly counting them. (In one series alone, 1,629 were affixed across 62 canvases.) To that, we added the reported 9,000 that were killed over the course of Hirst’s 23-week retrospective at Tate Modern, which featured the live-butterfly spectacle In and Out of Love that one outlet referred to as “butterfly Hiroshima.”


SERIES: “Natural History”(1991–2014); “Innocence Lost”; “Lost Love/Love Lost” (2000)
VICTIMS: 46 pork sausages, one diamond-encrusted human skull, 624 internal organs from 8 cows, 16 cow skulls, 41 fish skeletons, one gilded woolly mammoth skeleton.
METHODOLOGY: This hodgepodge section is for those materials that defy standard animal kingdom classification—but we felt it necessary to make note of the various entrails, bones, and byproducts that Hirst has included in his repertoire. The pickled internal organs of eight cows, for instance, are preserved inside jars lined up on shelves like a creepy medicine cabinet. Eleven sausages are included in the “Natural History” vitrine series. An additional 35-edition work, Innocence Lost, comprises a single-link sausage submerged in an alcohol-filled baby bottle. According to a butcher we consulted, it would take two whole pigs to create 46 pork sausages.
GRAND TOTAL: 913,450
“It’s amazing what you can do with an E in A-Level art, a twisted imagination, and a chainsaw,” Hirst declared, accepting the Turner Prize in 1995. Indeed.

If you red this far, here’s my contribution:
We often say Trump is an idiot. Being a human retard is not a shame in itself, electing him as president, I say it is.
An art scammer like Hirst is a human who tries to test the market and suceedes in covering himself in “glory” and lots (Lots!) of money. Who puts him there is not the public. Art critics may suck up to him but it’s the public who buys the tickets, collectors who buy his shit. Art critics didnt give Hirst any penny, they make money from praising Hirst.
Now, why did I write in the same paragraph about people who elect Trumps and enrich Hirsts?…
It’s your life


The Artist and the Model in early 21st

I hope the following story will inspire someone, give him/her courage in pursuing a love for creating Art.

I frequent with great pleasure sites like Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest. Many people share their doodles and art. To me it’s a sign that the “art nerve” is encouraged in more people these days than ever before! Maybe it’s a refuge from the horrors the rest of the society constructs, maybe it’s a love for the language of Art as spiritual growth.

In primary school (talking about 50 years ago) I already gave up drawing. There was one guy in my class, he had a natural talent of drawing proportion and detail. And the adults were promoting the da Vinci idea: you’re a born artist or go do something else.

My love for Art never died and though I was pushed to other directions, “more macho”, because I was good at math and programming, I have spent some time in those areas. From a distance I observed artists and never had the guts to just go for it, afraid of failing at what I was loving the most.

Picasso’s and the modern art current didn’t encourage me; they were too “natural born doodlers” and I thought, if the world buys their art, they must do something that I certainly can’t.

Eventually I took to film and photography, it was closer to creating images, to framing the world around me and falling in love with those frames, images.

At the age of 49 (!) I got a health problem and couldn’t perform the job that was bringing me the bacon.
As Janis Joplin sang, “freedom’s just another word for nothing else to loose”. There was nothing else for me to loose so I felt free to pick up the pencil.

It turned out that my constant observation of life, details, human expressions were not wasted.
I made my own learning curriculum, based on the classical schools, mostly defunct these days:
1) The study of Anatomy helps you  understand what you see when you look at your model.
2) Practice like a ho’!

Everybody and his cat has a camera, the web is flooded with selfies, erections, I don’t think men ever felt so confident in exposing themselves nude online, for all to see.
And here comes the punch line: they won’t do it for an artist!

Being a model, nude or not, is not an easy job. It’s a job, those models earn their money.
Regular Joe, whom I asked to allow me sketch him for 30 mins while he was already nude for other reasons in my presence, either didn’t agree (insecurity?) or asked for ludicrous sums of money (he suddenly imagined himself a Prada model?)

I notice many works, from line drawing to oil paintings, are based on photos found online. In principle that would be no problem, just that tracing a photo misses 3 very important points:
1) Training your eye, hand
2) Allowing your personal touch to reinterpret what you see, even if you decide to go for the hyper-realistic style (some hyper-realists manage to make works that look like Art and not photos or Xerox copies – we already got those machines)
3) Returning the immense pleasure of discovering that you can make something yourself, like flying with your own wings, cycling on 2 wheels after abandoning the 2 training little ones attached to your childhood bicycle, swimming without hanging to a raft. That, to me, is immense!

I don’t think 10% of the people posting works online actually live from that. Even artists who try to live from their works, dedicate their full time to making works of art (activity far more time consuming than a 9 to 5 job), even they have a huge problem earning their bread.

Tracing is not new and not completely bad. It helps you get a bit of confidence, like those 2 training wheels. Caravaggio traced, it’s documented by his contemporaries. Many other artists in the Renaissance and after did that. That was Before photo cameras, most painters were trying to be photo cameras themselves. Very few, like Caravaggio, went inside that traced contour and poured a Universe of Beauty and Passion that we still admire, after hundreds of years.

Put everything in perspective: if you want your FB friends to think you’re an artist, go for “coloring books”: trace, color with pencils, oils or computers.
If you want to move further, just sit on the train while commuting, in a park, at Starbucks, observe, sketch, don’t care if anyone peeks over your shoulder and see you’re not da Vinci. Once you take a bite from that Art Love, it will bite back and you’ll be hooked, no need for antidepressants, FB, or selfies.

Here’s a simple example collected online: from a simple photo taken by someone, somebody hijacked it in photoshop, gave it a computer touch. Someone else traced it and turn it into a computer “painting”. Someone else traced it again and turned it into an analog painting. Nothing else to add.

Kindergard(t)en 2.0

Most of us grow up playing; it’s a great way of learning. In adulthood playing is a luxury, maybe that’s why some people say “let’s play” when they mean “let’s have sex”.
The idea of disguising playground for adults, make them look like something more mature, intellectual, was a great idea. What I find a bad idea is to use a museum space for this purpose.

For some adults, the museum is a spiritual temple, a place of recollection, meditation, contemplation, admiration for the few good things humanity manage to produce.
That is why, when I enter a museum (even of modern, contemporary art), I still expect to be face to face with works of Art, even if some rooms are occupied with unmade beds, sliced sharks, those kind of repetitive ready-mades that the world has seen ever since the Dada made a point. But hey, a museum might decide to show the malaise of the contemporary world so bring your crap inside, we’ll call it art.

But when the crap is actually crap actually, imitation of crap/poop/turd/shit whatever you prefer to call it, I want my money back, because the time I took to go to a museum and figure out that I must leave immediately, nobody can return.
You might say “why didn’t you read the website, see which event is taking place?”.
When you have a friend that you meet from time to time, even if he/she surprises you with something new, you don’t expect to meet Bob and actually bump into Donald Trump. I like to just walk into a museum which inspired me in the past.

The reason of this post is to say Yuck! This contemporary museum unpleasantly Trumped me with a playground for adults. Gigantic replicas of turds, polystyrene where adults can play with an excuse. Critics (many in numbers in the world, as job title, very few deserving the title) will serve you with the regular pompous words: come experience, top artists, challenge the notion of, juxtapose concepts, crap, crap, crap.
This museum even built a small pool on the roof to allow people to “experience rowing” – in a country full of canals, boats and a sea shore.
I will let the pictures speak for themselves but this time, all my thumbs point downwards. I wonder if any other museum will challenge the notion of puke, the one that some other exhibitions of contemporary art use as expression of appreciation. Will anyone expose my regurgitation?

Science and Art – the tools for discovery

The Old Masters of the Renaissance, viewed from today’s perspective, were wrong about the subjects. Most, not all of them. But they did what they could, to earn the buck, for instance portraits of boring rich men. That’s when they had fun painting amazing robes, though most of that work was done by the studio apprentice.
They painted old men in frocks, with tiaras on their heads, as the Popes and Cardinals were the main commissioners. (but watch that glow in the ring on the arthritic hand!)
They painted fat babies pointing at the sky, Madonnas holding them with sadness because, as the church preaches, they knew their baby was going to be crucified at some point in the future.
They painted fat, ugly women from Amsterdam or Mona Lisas, genetically deformed kings or semi-nude women modeled from men (not sure Michelangelo ever saw a naked woman, not that he was much interested in the subject).
Follow the subject and you will know in which year the work was executed. Because painting prostitutes was done much later, unless you name was the Damned Caravaggio.
But the Old Masters knew how to work like gods! Some of them, not all.
That’s why we go and stare at fat babies and Mona Lisas. Let’s be honest, Mona Lisa is not really the woman you’d like to hang out with, in today’s iconography she’d be a hair salon worker in a small French town. That’s where she probably lost her eyebrows.
But just like a coiffeuse from a village can be visually unappealing yet an intriguing human being, so are the classical paintings.
There’s so much happening on that small canvas: the layers of colors, mixed and applied in secret methods, the eyes of the subject, the lights that roll the story like a movie, the size of the painting, all that make you listen. Mostly, they make you listen to yourself: emotions and thoughts bouncing inside your soul, in response to what the work of art throws at you.
At the end of the day, it’s just a canvas with some colors on it, nothing more spectacular, in terms of material presence. The work itself though, functions like a micro- and telescope, bringing together the outside with your inside. And the Scientist doing that is called the Artist.
The Museum is the place where we’re lucky to see works otherwise inaccessible, unless you’re a zillionaire who collects and even takes the time to speak with such works of art.
Save for the church works translating to illiterate people the word of the scripture, before the advent of the Museum, the art was made for private eyes: study rooms, salons, boudoirs.
The work was subject to light changes during the day and the season. A good work had continuously something else to reveal; the eyes watching belonged to a person that continuously changed.
That’s why Art was and sometimes is Alive, that’s how I try to savor it.

The Museum is the Church of the Human aspiring to Evolution

Governments can sponsor wars but not free entry to ALL musea?
Do you pay to enter a church? The Museum is the Church of the Rational, Atheist Human Being, who is a Spiritual Being.
The Museum is his Church and should be accessible at no cost.
Being in the presence of Art your humanity (or lack of it) is illuminated. Religions impose “don’t kill, don’t steal” because an immaginary super power is watching you and will punish you if you do otherwise.
Art gives you the freedom to look inside yourself and decide if you want to kiss or steal. Which, as I was pointing out, speaks of your humanity or lack thereof.
Evolution is either Spiritual or not at all.

Free entry musea in Europe:
London : National Gallery,
British Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
Paris:      Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Berlin:    Wall Memorial
Copenhagen: National Museum
Nice:      Musée des Beaux-Arts
Madrid: Prado
Rome:    Museum of Liberation
Reykjavik:  Museum of Photography
Los Angeles: Getty Center
The Broad
Washington DC:  The Smithsonian
New York:   The Metropolitan (free or “pay what you can”)
Huston:  The Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel
Tokyo:    National Art Center
Buenos Aires: Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Edinburgh:   Scottish National Gallery
Amsterdam: street pissoirs (or u can just piss in the canals)