Why are they famous? Damien Hirst

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Indy Lifestyle Online
MAIM CLAIM: Pickled sharks and other Cool Britannia shenanigans. Cows, sheep, rats for instance. Whirly paint swirl pictures. Dots. Art books Oh, and restaurants. And videos. Now Britart's bad boy millionaire has, yawn, set up his own record label, Turtleneck Records, whose first offering, "Vindaloo", is the unofficial World Cup single. "It's an anthem for life, innit?" says Damien. "A reflection of life in England today." Damien has been playing "Vindaloo" to his builders, and they have given it the "thumbs up". The man on the street likes it. Must be wicked, then. Britart, trendy eateries, vids, and now Britpop. Why doesn't Damien ever do anything remotely unfashionable? Like painting a picture in a leaky garage and keeping quiet, for example?

APPEARANCE: Bovver boy meets Pitcher and Piano favouring classified ads sales manager. Frogspawn meets Sid Vicious. Newt meets Nigel Kennedy.

BRIT PACK: Hirst, 33 next month, is the granddaddy of Cool Britannia. His seminal Goldsmith's art student "Freeze" exhibition took place before paint, canvas and Pop Arty objects became fashionable again. Tony Blair, Alexander McQueen, Kate Moss, Stella McCartney and all those nasal moaning Britpop lads are mere courtiers to the Renaissance man that is Damien Hirst, first lad of all things Brit. Like Marco Pierre White, Damo is as famous as his product. Er - but is it art?

BAD BOY: Born Damien Brennan, as the result of a short affair his mother had with a photographer, Hirst was adopted by a secondhand car salesman. Brought up in a Leeds semi, he achieved a Grade E in art A level and was rejected by St Martin's. Never daunted, the stubbled young knave worked on building sites, was accepted by Goldsmith's, and exhibited by Saatchi. With price tags of up to pounds 150,000, he has made at least pounds 1 million from his farmyard activities, and lives in a Covent Garden flat with a Californian jewellery designer and their son, Connor.

COOL DUDE: The hip one managed to look coolly displeased when he won the Turner Prize. He then opened Pharmacy, a paean to Eighties style fascism, developed scruffy hair and a Union Jack top. But haven't we seen it all before, readers?

FAME PROSPECTS: Damien demonstrates a gleeful delight in his own notoriety while affecting to shrug it off. A millennial Andy Warhol wannabe, all bad boy and PR, he could go one chronically hip step too far and compose a dire opera or write a Briteverything novel. How about painting faces, flowers and landscapes? Or taking life classes?

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