Freedom Not Genius: Works from Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection completed its residency at Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, where it was exhibited since November 2013.
In reference to this collection, Hirst’s website has this to say:
“Genius is easy. Genius means that everybody isn’t an artist. Freedom means that everybody is an artist. I believe in freedom. I don’t believe in genius. I don’t think that artists are special people. I think they’re normal people who have managed to harness somehow what is important for everybody. I don’t think they’re born special…” — Damien Hirst.
The exhibition reflects the artist’s life-long commitment to the process of collecting, something he describes as being: ‘like stuff washed up on a beach somewhere and that somewhere is you’. ‘Freedom not Genius’ also bears testament to Hirst’s absorption with those themes explored so iconically within his own work: the struggle involved in reconciling the concept of our mortality in life and a fascination with natural history.
Pablo Picasso. Nature morte au crâne et au pot. 1943. Oil on canvas. © Succession Picasso / DACS, London 2012. Photography credit: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Picasso’s ‘Nature morte au crâne et au pot’ (1943) is a starting point of the exhibition. Damien doesn’t believe in genius. I’m glad he thinks Picasso is no genius. Picasso’s ‘Nature morte…” is not work of genius, in my opinion. Freedom? Perhaps. Anyone is free to paint whatever he or she is damn well please.
Unknown. Untitled (Augsburg Skeleton). 17th century. Silver with ebony base. © DACS 2012 / RAO (Moscow) 2013
Curated by Elena Geuna for the Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin, it features over fifty artists and spans five centuries.
Some of the features artists are: Francis Bacon, Don Brown, John Currin, Frank Auerbach, David Bailey, Banksy, John Bellamy, Nick Bibby, Ashley Bickerton, Peter Blake, Mat Collishaw, Tracy Emin, Falle, Hoyland, Gary Hume, Paul Insect, John Isaacs, Michael Joo, Jonathan Kingdom, Jeff Koons, Rodrigo Moynihan, Vik Muniz, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman, Andry Warhol, Rachel Whiteread, Cerith Wyn Evans.
“It’s great to be able to exhibit so many of my favorite artists together, and I think ‘Freedom not Genius’ reveals a lot about me in a way you wouldn’t normally see. Gathering these works in one space, when they’re from such different times and places, is amazing and definitely says something about what’s remained important for mankind, artists and for me.” — Damien Hirst.
In the early 90s, Hirst seemed like a breath of fresh air, a rave-era blast against the terrible, starchy politeness that characterized the British art scene. In a world of high theory and rigorously monochrome wardrobes, it was funny to say that you paid assistants to make your art “because I couldn’t be fucking arsed doing it”.
Within the following two decades, Hirst has become quite odious figure in the world of art, experimenting not only — and not as much — with paint, brushes, pickled cows and rotted animal flesh, but with the art market. But this is altogether different story.
Colin Lowe. You Will Never Forget Me. 2007. Stuffed cat, hair, wood, cotton thread. © DACS 2012 / RAO (Moscow) 2013
Damien Hirst was a prolific collector. In early 90’s he began trading work with his contemporaries. His life-long commitment to the process of collecting he describes as: “like stuff washed up on a beach somewhere, and that somewhere is you.”
Jeff Koons. Elephant. 2003. High chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating. © Jeff Koons / 2012 / RAO (Moscow) 2013
Freedom not Genius collection is a testament of Hirst’s nearly obsessive absorption with themes of mortality, decay and death.
The Freedom Not Genius collection was welcomed with a mix of curiosity and fascinated anticipation in Turin, Milan and now Moscow.