The Hirst Revival?

This week Damien Hirst opens his new £25 million, 37,000 sq. ft gallery in Vauxhall, south London. The new space begins with a free show of paintings by British abstract painter John Hoyland, all owned by Hirst (until 3 April 2016).

Hirst has described Hoyland as “easily the greatest British abstract painter”, and Hirst fans will surely be forming queues to find similarities – if any – between Hoyland and Hirst’s own colourful abstract works – the spot paintings, and spin paintings.

How will the new gallery affect the market for Hirst’s works? Is this the time for a surge of interest in the former YBA, whose works have cooled slightly on the mainstream art market since 2008.

Hirst shot to fame in the 1990s as part of the Young British Artists movement and rose to sell works for £50 million (the diamond-encrusted skull), and gain notoriety and acclaim for pieces such as his pickled shark “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living “ now owned by the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Hirst’s prices began to fall after his notorious Sotheby’s auction in September 2008, which raised a single-artist record of £111 million. Here, Hirst sold directly on the primary market (not through a dealer as usual). This was a bold – some said too arrogant – move. It upset the art market etiquette and saved Hirst paying high dealer fees. Although a success, Hirst’s prices took a dip after this. Many collectors felt threatened by this mass-market approach. Since then, some works have fallen in value by up to a third (based on auction sales).

It is not uncommon for artist’s prices to fluctuate, and similarly prolific artists have also experienced highs and lows – Andy Warhol most notably. Perhaps, the new gallery signals a change of fortunes for the Hirst market. Could now be the ideal time to buy?

Places to see Hirst’s work now:

Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museum, showing Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull, For the Love of God, 2007, alongside other Hirst works (until 15 November)

Ordovas, London, until 12 December, ‘The Big Blue’, a a show conceived by Damien Hirst, inspired by the sea that spans almost two millenia.  Including Hirst’s ‘Heaven’ (2008-2009), a shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde that belongs to the same series as ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’, alongside works by Francis Bacon, Yves Klein and Max Ernst, amongst others.

Sotheby’s London – Quite a few smaller spot paintings sold for about £8,000 at auction this last week. Another large Hirst spot painting, NUCLEOHISTONE, 114.3 by 160cm, estimate £200,000 – £300,00, is in its 16 October London auction and will be on view in saleroom gallery the week before.

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