Damien Hirst Is Taking Over One of Gagosian’s London Galleries as Curator for an Entire Year

The artist will organize shows of his own work and that of other artists.

Damien Hirst. Photo by Billy Farrell, ©Patrick McMullan.
Damien Hirst. Photo by Billy Farrell, ©Patrick McMullan.

One of the world’s mightiest galleries has handed over its keys to one of the world’s most famous artists. Damien Hirst will organize all the shows at Gagosian’s Britannia Street location in London for the entire next year. The shows will consist of Hirst’s own work.

Hirst’s Britannia Street debut will be a show of his hyper-realistic “Fact” paintings and sculptures. “The idea of variations of truth seems relevant just now,” Gagosian director Millicent Wilner tells the Financial Times. He will also show a large canvas depicting a butterfly (from 2009), replica shelves of cleaning products (2015) and a painting of the 2019 fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, the paper reports.

Michael Craig-Martin has also lent a 2008 painting showing himself holding Hirst’s infamous diamond-encrusted skull for the exhibition.

Damien Hirst, <i>Papilio glaucus in Gerbera</i>, 2009. Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Courtesy Gagosian.

Damien Hirst, Papilio glaucus in Gerbera, 2009. Photo by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Courtesy Gagosian.

Hirst has a history of curating his own work into exhibitions. His Newport Street Gallery, also in London, mounted a show of the artist’s early work, titled “End of a Century,” last fall. He has also organized splashy shows for his fellow market monsters, like his 2016 show of works by Jeff Koons, drawn from his own collection.

In fact, Hirst got his start as a self-appointed curator as far back as 1988, when he organized “Freeze,” a show composed mostly of works by his YBA peers at Goldsmiths, including artists Mat Collishaw, Gary Hume, and Sarah Lucas.

“We need to do things differently at an altered time,” Wilner tells the FT. “It’s a definite takeover.”

What’s not definite is when the doors will open, which depends on when UK authorities deem it safe to ease restrictions on public gatherings. After a period of lockdown, galleries reopened briefly in December but were abruptly shuttered a few weeks later, as the pandemic worsened again.

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