Damien Hirst Paintings 'Shockingly Bad'

British artist's exhibit got much hype, but only because he's famous, say critics
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2009 1:09 PM CDT
British artist Damien Hirst stands alongside his painting, 'Men Shall Know Nothing 2008', one of 25 new paintings being shown in The Wallace Collection at Hertford House in London, Oct. 13, 2009.   (AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
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(Newser) – “Bad boy of British art" Damien Hirst decided to put his headline-grabbing, conceptual art projects aside and return to painting. Critics, however, are not impressed with the exhibition of 25 new paintings, which opened today:

  • “There are many painters in evening classes much worse than Hirst,” writes Tom Lubbock in the Independent. “On the other hand, you'd find quite a few who were better, too. To try to be accurate: Hirst, as a painter, is at about the level of a not-very-promising, first-year art student.”

  • “The problems with the exhibition begin when you study the paintings themselves,” writes Sarah Crompton in the Telegraph. “Although they have impact as a group, individually many of the paintings simply don't pass muster. Details are tentatively painted; compositions fall apart under scrutiny.”
  • “There's a lot of niggling overdrawing,” writes Adrian Searle in the Guardian. “Hirst's paintings lack the kind of theatricality and grandeur that made Bacon succeed. At its worst, Hirst's drawing just looks amateurish and adolescent.”
  • What are these paintings "doing in the home of such masters as Rembrandt or Poussin, Titian or Fragonard?” asks Rachel Campbell-Johnston in the Times. “The answer is simple: They are by Damien Hirst. The artist who has made his reputation with shock now produces works that are shockingly bad.”