Damien Hirst: Practice Makes Perfect

“Anyone can be like Rembrandt. I don’t think a painter like Rembrandt is a genius. It’s about freedom and guts. It’s about looking. It can be learnt. That’s the great thing about art. Anybody can do it if you just believe. With practice you can make great paintings.”

The artist poses in front of his latest show

The Telegraph reports that Hirst: “made the comments as he defended himself from critics of his latest exhibition at the Wallace Collection in London, which has been described as “an embarrassment” and “shockingly bad”. He admitted he had a long way to go before equalling the 17th century Dutch master, but dismissed the idea that Rembrandt was a genius and claimed that, with practice, he could learn to paint like him.”

While I might not entirely disagree with Hirst’s comment, it’s hilarious that he is getting defensive now. Apparently putting animals in formaldehyde for ridiculous amounts of money required no comment. He really branched out with his work, and kudos to him for taking that kind of risk. At the same time his idealism- anybody can be a great painter if they just believe- isn’t working here, at least according to the critics. Maybe he needs more practice?

12 thoughts on “Damien Hirst: Practice Makes Perfect

  1. I read the Telegraph review and my perception is that the critics didn’t get fed something spectacular. Instead they got paintings that are not “brilliant”. I have to think that had they not been done by Hirst they wouldn’t generate much interest or venom.
    I would prefer to see one in the real before I could pass any judgement on painterly skills, but I dont’ agree with his comment.

  2. Not anyone could be Rembrandt. Yes, anyone can learn the technical skills to create a competent painting. It doesn’t take much more than practice over time.

    However, it does take genius to be as good as Rembrandt. He can’t see it because he’s a dope, but Rembrandt had something special, some quality which can’t be pointed at but which is nevertheless real.

    I may end up writing about this on my blog. Short version: Hirst is a hosehead.

  3. We all learn but not everyone is going to learn enough to be a painter like Rembrandt (or Pollack for that matter) Perhaps the “critics” may themselves be re-evaluating their opinions of diamond encrusted skulls and sharks thus leaving Mr. Hirst’s ego a bit raw.

  4. I can name about six skill sets that I lack that would totally preclude me from learning how to paint like Rembrandt.

    I am not familiar enough with Hirst to know if he has any experience with figurative art. I do kind of like his multicolored dot phase, but most of what he is infamous for is a little ridiculous.

  5. Oh, and one more thing, having his exhibition at the Wallace Collection puts his work in high relief. If I remember correctly I don’t think they have a stick of art from any time later than the 19th century.

  6. Not having seen the paintings, I can’t say if they are really as bad as the critics think. But I can be really interested that his defense is that anyone can learn to paint like Rembrandt. A theory he has apparently NOT proved.

    Raw ego indeed. (It’s terrible but I’m kind of smirking as I write that)

    Thomas, yes, it was a contrasting setting with all the period furnishings and his paintings, which looked a lot more like Francis Bacons than Rembrandts.

  7. The worst thing about the paintings is that they aren’t even particularly original – just sub-Francis Bacon.

    As for the animals in formaldehyde, they’re already decaying.

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