Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Shark at the Met

Damien Hirst's Tiger Shark #2 (titled "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living") was recently moved to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Opinion of its artistic merits are divided, especially since Hirst had a new shark preserved by professional taxidermists in 2006 after the original piece of work (Tiger Shark #1) started to go rotton. Art collector Charles Saatchi comissioned the original piece in 1991. The shark itself cost Hirst £6000 and the total cost of the work was £50 000. The shark was caught by a fisherman commissioned to do so, in Australia. Saatchi sold the original piece in 2004 for 12 million dollars (not a bad investment). This made it the second highest price paid in history for the work of a living artist.

Hirst's usual response to those who say that anyone could have done this artwork is, "But you didn't, did you?".

My question is: is it possible to defend this work as a piece of art while you would presumably be unable to do so for my Granny's old stuffed cat? After all both of them are just dead animals prepared by professional taxidermists.


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