Damien Hirst “Goo Paintings” at Gagonian

Damien Hirst Goo Paintings

Damien Hirst Goo Paintings, opening in January, throughout the world.

This is a review that appeared in the New Art Alert.


This bold new series has the art cognoscenti ogling with open mouths and wallets. Hirst’s new twist on his “spot paintings” shows a mastery not just of color, but of scale, placement of form, negative space, foreground and background, composition, and message. The critics who formerly dismissed Hirst as a copy-cat were struck dumb by the work on display at the opening reception in the New York Gagonian gallery on January 9th. The first reaction of some critics was to dismiss the work as a joke or frivolous, but then they would find themselves overtaken by an inexplicable power that transfixed them staring at the canvases. This happens when the words begin to come forward and recede. One can’t be sure if the bigger words are closer because they are bigger, or if they are just bigger. Distances begin to shift. Words emerge in front of the canvas. And infinity is suggested.

Asked why he chose the word “GOO” for his text images, Hirst gave a surprising answer.

It’s not whatever you think. The word seems funny, but it has an essential, pure, and even radiant quality. What is baby’s first word? Right. It’s ‘goo’. But baby isn’t just mumbling, he’s trying to tell us something. He’s trying to tell us the one thing he knows. He’s trying to say ‘God’. You know, babies are closer to God, to the infinite. And  they want to remind us, to tell us. So when you look at these paintings, yeah, you keep looking at the words, and it brings you closer to remembering your first utterance, and what you were trying to tell your parents. These paintings bring you closer to God. And when the viewers start to repeat ‘goo’ as they look from word to word, it’s like they are babies again basking in the clear light of their maker. It’s fucking magic.

Goo Painting #869, 2013. This is the same one as in the picture behind the artist.

Goo #869, 2013. Here is the painting from above without the “artist” in it.

This may explain why some spectators found themselves in tears before the pieces, and afterwards felt rejuvenated and as if they’d had a cathartic experience. Hirst has employed a crew of 300 artists to produce a goal of 3,000 goo paintings, which is double the number of dot paintings he previously created. The artists are left on their own to decide what color, where, and how large they paint the words, but Hirst assures us he is in control of every brush stroke, and his heart, eye, and hand is responsible for 100% of the work. Like our greatest architects, Hirst conceives and engineers the projects to the finest details, and then has skilled workers execute the production. There are certain rules the workers must follow, such as that the words must never touch each other, and every word must be a different color. Hirst insists that a technique which he devised is used to make each word a little blurry, so it is soft on the eyes, and every word within a given painting must be equally blurry. He further employes a strict quality control procedure in which he randomly inspects a percentage of the works before they are put on the market.The works start at $333,000 each, and if they are all sold roughly a billion dollars will be generated.

Damien Hirst Spot paintings

Damien Hirst Spot paintings on view in New York in 2012. There were 11 simultaneous openings for his paintings, all over the world. This generous gift from the artist was only possible because he magnanimously employed starving artists to help him make over 1,400 of them.

This series of paintings may constitute the most profound and moving artwork of the 21st century. Bring tissue and prepare to be riveted where you stand.

~ Jeffrey Collins, New Art Alert

goo-917

Goo #917. Even in the reproduction on screen there is a certain mesmerizing power to these images.


You know this is a spoof, right? OK, true, but if you strangely found yourself wanting to OWN one of “Hirst’s” bad-boy GOO paintings, I’ve made that possible. You can have one up to 8 feet wide, for ridiculously low prices. The 8 footer print is 0.08% of the proposed cost of the identical one in the article above. Keep in mind it’s by me, it’s a joke, and not by the richest artist in the world. On the other hand a parody of Hirst’s work is a worthwhile thing in itself.

Photography Prints

Note to Damien Hirst, if he happens across any of my criticism of him. Dude, you are already rich enough for thousands of artists. You got nothing to worry about. Don’t be a thin-skinned wiener on top of it.


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5 thoughts on “Damien Hirst “Goo Paintings” at Gagonian

  1. Clever references there. Firstly, there is the godlike (or goo-like) power of monopolies like Google. Then there is the way that ‘goo’ is one letter short of ‘good’, the same letter that is the artist’s initial, and the word that is the other translation of that Greek word in used by Plato to describe beauty (I forget which Greek word though, having only studied philosophy rather than classics). And not forgetting that these depths to the works are suggested by the word-cloud formations that give an impression of three dimensions. Also, goo backwards is oog, which is another first word we all utter as babies. Will get back if I spot any more.

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