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Damien Hirst made to look foolish

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Damien Hirst rapidly changed his image from enfant terrible of the art world to plonker with this ongoing dispute against Cartrain.

For the love of Damien, originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.

Hirst objected to Cartrain’s montages which featured images of Hirst’s diamond-set skull piece ‘For the love of God’. Cartrain ‘borrowed’ pencils from Hirst’s Pharmacy exhibition and created a “wanted”-style poster that read: “For the safe return of Damien Hirst’s pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst took off me in November. It’s not a large demand… Hirst has until the end of this month to resolve this or on 31 July the pencils will be sharpened. He has been warned.”

So Hirst retaliated by setting Scotland Yard on Cartrain.

From a reputational point-of-view:

  • Hirst has come out looking like a member of the establishment, his value as an anti-authority figure in the art world as part of the Young British Artists movement has been irreparably damaged. This is the prime reason for his artworks artificially high price, their ability to challenge society from the outside
  • Hirst also ends up looking like a hypocrite, his own copyright-related run-ins are well documented on wikipedia
  • Cartrain’s reputation as a rebel artist alongside Banksy is now assured

From an artistic point-of-view this muddies the legal waters for Warhol-esque works of art. Would Warhol have been able to make his Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe pictures?Hirst finds himself in a similar position to O’Reilly Publishing with their Web2.0 debacle from a few years ago. And the actions of  Tim O’Reilly show the way that Hirst can remove himself from the reputational jam. Whether wisdom will prevail over bruised egos however is a topic for another time.

As a communications professional, this is great for me as it provides me with an excellent reputation management ‘gone wrong’ case study with a known brand name which I can hawk around conferences and other speaker events.

Thanks for the inspiration Damien, you’ve given me a licence to print money for years with your name ^_^