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Number of Gagosian galleries showing spot paintings:
Cities with spot painting shows:
Total number of spot paintings in the 11 shows:
Number of spot paintings at New York Gagosian galleries:
115 (34.7 percent of spot paintings now on view in the shows)
Total number of spot paintings that Mr. Hirst has made:
More than 1,500, according to Roberta Smith’s piece in The New York Times
Record price for a spot painting:
$3.48 million, for an 84-by-203.9 in. painting from 1998, at Phillips de Pury & Company in London, in Feb. 2008
Most spot paintings at one Gagosian gallery:
74, at the Madison Ave. branch in New York
Fewest spot paintings at one Gagosian gallery:
Six, at the Athens branch
Largest spot painting in the world:
118 by 478 in. (56,404 sq. in.), at West 21st St. branch
Smallest spot painting in the world:
1 x 0.5 in. (.5 sq. in.), at Davis St. branch in London and in Rome
Most dots on one spot painting:
25,781, on view at the Madison Ave. branch in New York
Fewest spots on one spot painting:
Half a spot, on view at the Davies St. branch in London and in Rome
Smallest spots on a spot painting:
1 mm, on view at West 21st St. branch in New York
Largest spots on a spot painting:
60 in., on view at West 24th St. branch in New York
Year the first spot painting was made:
1986, on view at the Madison Ave. branch
The most spots that will ever be on a single spot painting:
Two million, according to Mr. Hirst, in his Observer interview with Anthony Haden-Guest. (The artist’s assistants are at work on it now.)
How many spot paintings will there be?
“I want them to be an endless series,” Mr. Hirst told Mr. Haden-Guest, “but I want them to be sort of infinite.” So, in other words, no one has any idea.
Creepy baby Jesus and Prozac in Paris
Starting on February 2nd, my friend Matthew and I began a brief trip of three full days exploring Paris, with the intention of acquiring spot number six of the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge. It was 20 degrees, the sun was shining and our smiles were effectively frozen to our faces as we strolled into uncrowded museums (no line at the Louvre!) perpetually sustained by coffee, pastries, bread, cheese and wine. I hadn’t been to Paris in many years and was happy to once again experience her spectacular beauty along with the charming cobble stoned streets lined with sandstone buildings housing boulangeries, small bistros and antiques.
On day one, we walked all over the place. Notre Dame, St. Germaine, Latin Quarter, the Pantheon. Notre Dame still had Christmas going on with a droopy tree outside and a full nativity scene set up inside. Creepiest baby jesus I’ve ever seen…with a faux fur diaper (see photo below). Not at all what I expected.
On day two, after a requisite walk up the Champs Elysees to the Arc De Triumph, we made our way to the Gagosian Gallery on 4 Rue de Pontheiu. Due to my stellar map reading skills, this took longer than expected…but make it there, we did.
The Paris show is more subtle than the Chelsea or LA shows. It’s size and content are more akin to the Hong Kong exhibit. Most notable was Cupric Nitrate, 2007, an 81x83 inch work filled with a grid of one inch spots. Much like it’s larger compatriots in LA and Chelsea, this work beckons the viewer to step inside the grid, and be engulfed by the silent organization and cheerful indifference of the spots. Like visual Prozac, the effect is emotionally leveling and forces the viewer to surrender into a mental hum that is without limits. Depending on who you are, and what your state of mind is at the moment, this can be equally comforting or disturbing.
As I experience more of the Hirst spot paintings, I am continually struck by the three dimensional qualities they possess. When I was considering this, I had an epiphany that he’s a sculptor who paints. Imagine my surprise when I read an article where he states, “I started them as an endless series like a sculptural idea of a painter (myself). A scientific approach to painting similar to the drug companies’ scientific approach to life.” Prozac, indeed.
We came :
We saw Hirst spots, in the exclusive Gagosian Gallery for Greek art collectors (and others):
We added notches to our belts:
We witnessed the changing of the guard, Greek style:
Ryan gave me the Acropolis 5 cent tour :
I thanked my tour guide:
We signature posed:
I got my nasty Greek coffee on:
Now off to get our Paris on.
Paris in a snapshot
Arrived in Paris late at night, was pretty cold, was pretty sleepy. Took this photo in the a.m on the way to the Gagosian gallery
Then we had a Paris spot off:
Ryan got sleepy and took a nap:
So we left to get some fresh air. Took a photo in front of the Arc De Triumph:
And headed to Gare Du Nord, Paris, where Ryan got his French on:
had a glass of champagne:
and I had some French onion soup
Then we got on our train to London.
Frozen in Geneva
I arrived in Geneva on February fifth. It’s a short and easy flight from Paris and a simple ten minute (and free!) train ride into the center of town directly from the airport.
Geneva is a bit of a ghost town on Sundays. All retail stores are closed as well as many restaurants. This feeling was enhanced by the bitter cold and high winds convincing people there’s no need to go outside. In retrospect, I should have arrived on Monday the sixth, hit Gagosian upon opening, and then flown to London the same day, thereby avoiding a night spent in a hotel in Switzerland. Ah well, my plans were made and the gallery didn’t open until Monday, so I wandered the quiet streets for as long as I could stand the cold. The local Starbucks was the busiest place in town, and I joined the ranks of those needing hot stimulants to get through the grey blustery day. There was snow on the ground, and the Alps that form the backdrop to the city were beaconing with fresh powder. I got the impression that Geneva in winter is a passing through point for anyone heading toward the ski towns nestled in the mountains. After reminding myself that I didn’t have the time or equipment to change my plans to go skiing, I made a mental note to return in summer or fall to enjoy this extremely walkable city with it’s dinner cruises on the lake and outdoor cafes filled with people sipping Rose’ in their tank tops and sunglasses.
Paris was like a three day marathon and it had caught up with me. I was grateful to have a warm room with a bathtub and a comfy bed. After a hot bath and an undisturbed twelve hour sleep, I awoke refreshed and ready for my mission to walk across the Mont Blanc Bridge to 19 Place de Longemalle, and get my ticket stamped at Gagosian Gallery. I bundled up, checked out of my room, and stepped out into eighteen degrees fahrenheit with a wind chill of five. The wind intensified with every step toward the water. Crossing the bridge, I put my head down and weathered the howling gusts like an actor in a bad disaster film. It was only a twenty minute walk from door to door, and I arrived at the gallery five minutes before it opened, frozen to the core.
Side note: By now perhaps you’ve noticed, I did not photograph my trip to Geneva. I couldn’t feel my fingers, therefore I couldn’t operate my camera. It just wasn’t an option. Below, you will find stock photos of how it felt, and how I wish it was.
Ten minutes later, the gallery manager arrived, and I followed her upstairs to the second floor to see the small collection of spot paintings. While there I was offered coffee and made very welcome. As I began to thaw, I met a fellow spot hunter from Frankfurt, who was just beginning his travels. He was leaving for Hong Kong that afternoon and intended on finishing the entire challenge in seven days because that’s all the time he could get off work. Not much sleep in his future.
The show itself, is unremarkable compared to the larger venues. I did enjoy seeing more of Hirst’s limited edition prints and wondered if the print the spot challengers will be awarded will be of a similar size and composition. We have no way of knowing what they will look like, since Hirst will create the work after all the shows have closed and there is an official count on how many people finished the challenge.
I ventured back across the bridge once again, pleasantly surprised by the sun peeking through the clouds and a drop in wind velocity. I grabbed my bag from the hotel desk and took the train back to the airport for my flight to London. When I arrived to check in, I discovered London Heathrow was still backed up due to the previous days weather, and to top it off, the French pilots were on strike.
Perfect. I was flying standby…on Air France, to London Heathrow.
I sat in the Geneva Airport with my pathetic seat request boarding card, hatching plans B,C and D as hours passed and three flights left without me. Such is the life of airline buddy pass and staff travel. I was seconds away from buying an Easy Jet ticket when they assigned me a seat and I was on my way to London via Paris on what turned out to be a borrowed plane and crew from a small German airline. Nice save, Air France.
Next post: Spots 8 and 9 in London!