Monday, April 10, 2006

Damien's Dots...

Since they first covered the walls of an infamous 1988 London art exhibition called "Freeze," Damien Hirst has in many ways claimed ownership of the colored spot. His spot paintings (most of which are actually painted by assistants) have been to Mars and decorated cars and bars. In 1999 Hirst sued British Airways, claiming an advertisement for the airline, "Go," bore a resemblance to his spot paintings. (Watch out Twister!)

The spot paintings' spotty origins trace back to one of Marcel Duchamp's first ready-mades (Pharmacy, 1914) in which he painted small, colored dot-people on top of an existing landscape painting. To Duchamp these figures represented the colored pill bottles generally seen in pharmacy windows at that time. Pharmacies are also one of Hirst's recurring emblematic themes.

I like the spot paintings mostly because they capture a complex memory from my youth. There were these little pastel colored candies that came glued on rolls of paper. I can't remember what they're called now, but I hated them.
{UPDATE: Candy Buttons}.
They had the most cloyingly sweet and medicinal taste at the same time, and yet the packaging was so compelling - dainty candy not wrapped but affixed to paper where it was exposed to the elements, the germs, the brutality of life. I remember many a plastic jack-o-lantern stuffed with yards of that tooth-rotting stuff, not eating it but not being able to throw it out.

"Yes, yes, but where's the animal embalming!" you ask? Here is the latest...

("LSD" by Damien Hirst)


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