Damien Hirst is the greatest living artist. But only if, in using the word art, you accept that art has lost all connections with its long history. Hirst is very good at selling kitsch for very large sums of money: junk ‘art’ for junk bonds. The Hirst empire has been fed by global aesthetic deregulation. A massive confidence trick has been aided and abetted by a market driven art establishment, which culpably or not, has perpetuated a gigantic category error: art is money and higher prices mean better art. That has always been contrary to common sense. The audience at Sotherby’s can be moved to clap as the hammer falls on a big sale. It is not art; it’s the money they worship at this ritual. And if it weren’t for the money we should have stopped talking about Hirst and other artist Celebrities a long time ago. But the financial system is imploding. The US President warns of panic. Floods in Bangladesh leave people living on temporary sand banks. Polar bears are drowning. The turbine hall could soon be underwater. What will happen to the $100m worth of Hirst’s sold at Sotherby’s?
Drawing is different. As something in its own right, there wouldn’t be much point in getting someone else to do your drawing for you, any more than getting someone else to write your poem. Drawing is a solitary activity; something done quietly and best looked at closely, on a small scale, on tables, in folders. Its subtleties rely on touch and gradations of emphasis. It has been done since the beginning and changed little. As art it has no purpose except to be itself; it is valuable because it can express disinterested human creativity. The notion of progress is inimical in drawing; if there is development it is in appreciation and understanding. The tools of drawing remain basically unchanged and its environmental credentials are Obvious.