Damien Hirst Makes Bold Return to Gagosian Gallery

Gagosian will devote his Frieze New York booth to him.

Two of the biggest brands in the art market are set to reunite after a three-year separation. British artist Damien Hirst, known for provocative artworks like a sculpture with a shark preserved in formaldehyde, and dealer Larry Gagosian, who oversees a global empire with some sixteen locations in cities from New York to Hong Kong, will once again join forces, according to the New York Times.

The YBA split with the mega-dealer just days after the Art Basel in Miami Beach fair in 2012. That departure accompanied Yayoi Kusama’s exit to rival gallery David Zwirner as well as longtime Gagosian artist Jeff Koons‘s show at Zwirner.

Damien Hirst. Photo: Billy Farrell courtesy Patrick McMullan.

Damien Hirst.
Photo: Billy Farrell courtesy Patrick McMullan.

Hirst is known for doing things his own way. The split with Gagosian came four years after the artist took the unprecedented move of organizing an auction of his own work, which he dubbed “Beautiful Inside My Head,” at Sotheby’s London. The sale totaled £40.9 million for 167 works, with the top lot fetching £2.3 million.

Just as neither party spoke publicly about the reasons for the split, neither will specify just what occasioned the reunion. However, Gagosian will mark the reconciliation by devoting his booth at Frieze New York next month to Hirst’s work.

Damien Hirst, 5-Fluorotryptamine (2007)

Damien Hirst, 5-Fluorotryptamine (2007), 
Photo: Courtesy Phillip’s Ltd. 2014.

The dealer and the artist made waves together in 2012 when all of Gagosian’s locations worldwide (a paltry eleven at the time) showcased Hirst’s spot paintings. That show, naturally, made a huge splash, but not everyone loved it. ArtFCity’s Will Brand posted this scathing assessment:

There is, we recognize, a historical danger here. Someday, the record of this exhibition might be dug up by a young art historian, or perhaps a blogger like us, or perhaps some sort of future blogger who does things with brainwaves. They’ll see that there was a massive show spread across every location of the most successful gallery of the time, entirely comprised of one of the most successful artists of the time, and that it was supported by some of the most illustrious voices money could buy. So I’m going to lay this down, just to clarify, so that nobody from the future gets confused: we hate this shit. Everyone hates this shit. These spots reflect nothing about how we live, see, or think, they’re just some weird meme for the impossibly rich that nobody knows how to stop.

Hirst’s auction record stands at $19.2 million, set at Sotheby’s London in 2007, according to the artnet Price Database. That high was fetched by Lullaby Spring (2002), a nine-foot-wide steel cabinet including hundreds of painted reproductions of various pharmaceuticals.

Earlier this week, Hirst was in the news following a study that found that low levels of noxious gases are leaking from some of his best-known works, namely those pricey formaldehyde sculptures.


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