In an attempt to position himself as art’s reformed enfant terrible, Damien Hirst has released his response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following in the footsteps of national treasure, David Hockney, Hirst has revealed two pictures, one a heart and the other a rainbow, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Both are available to download online, and Hirst plans on turning the pieces into limited-edition prints, the money from which will be given to the NHS.
Hirst is referred to by The Times as bestowed with “a predilection for the blatantly symbolic” they are surprised by the “the totemic ubiquity and the bright exuberance of these pictures”. In short, his apparent optimism is unusual, especially when one considers his previous oeuvre.
Hirst, who is perhaps most renowned for his Satchi-commissioned Tiger Shark in a glass box, entitled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, has had controversial responses to past crises. The artist prompted outrage twenty years ago when he described 9/11 as “an artwork in its own right”.
Now, in his words, he feels: “there’s a lot of anxiety running, and a lot of people get down in a crisis and I think art can hopefully lift you out of that.”
Hirst’s appropriation of the Rainbow, a symbol which has been adopted across the country as a sign of hope, is something of a breakaway from his previous work. The use of butterfly wings, a trademark of the former member of the Young British Artists, in the piece serve as perhaps the only link to the Hirst of old.
Cruelly, though nonetheless accurately, The Times conclude: “if you were not told that it was Hirst who painted these pictures, you would not give them a second glance.”