Freedom Not Genius. Works from Damien Hirst's Murderme collection
I suspect that my opinion of Damien Hirst is fairly common: i like his work/i don't like his work. I find the guy likeable and then i don't. I did however, enjoy visiting the two exhibitions that presented a small selection of his private collection Murderme. I saw a part of it 6 years ago at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The show was called In the Darkest Hour There May Be Light. A skeleton dressed like an Inuit was lying on an ice cube and Sarah Lucas had her Chicken Knickers on. The collection is having another outing right now but in Turin, at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli. The title of the show this time is Freedom Not Genius. The artists shown are roughly the same (the artworks aren't): Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol; Richard Prince and his nurses; many of Hirst's YBA friends; a couple of Banksy. But also artefacts i don't remember having seen in London: taxidermied exotic animals, 17th-century vanitas paintings, vintage photographs and old skulls.
There were a few works i didn't care about (mostly the ones by Jeff Koons), a couple that surprised me (and that includes one by Jeff Koons) and many more i found rather uplifting. The Murderme collection is pure entertainment. Death is made dramatic and sometimes even cheerful. The artists have names most people have heard about. I found the exhibition curious and fascinating, it's that contemporary art world I find seductive but also utterly alien to me.
One of the rooms was dedicated to various memento mori with skulls from past centuries, a Picasso's Nature morte au crane et au pot, skulls adorned with a variety of materials, a Murakami (obviously my favourite), the skeletons of Tweety And Sylvester, etc.
Collishaw's The Garden of Unearthly Delights was probably the most photographed (or rather videoed) work in the show. The zoetrope was illuminated by stroboscopic lighting, giving the illusion that the figures were animated and that little children were gleefully throwing rocks at butterflies, crushing snails and bashing fish.
Freedom Not Genius remains open at the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli in Turin until 10 March 2013.