FLAT EARTH : Art for artist's sake

For those of you aching to know how Britain's bad boy of the art scene, Damien Hirst - he of the copulating dead cows and dissected pigs - would fare in America, your misery is at an end. Just fab, thank you darling.

Happily, Flat Earth was among those crammed into the risque-trendy Gargosian Gallery in Manhattan's SoHo district on Friday night for the debut of Hirst's latest New York exhibition, No Sense of Absolute Corruption. You don't have to take our word for his success, though. Just ask any of those names who turned up to give Hirst their support, such as David Bowie, Gianni Versace and - surely qualified to offer some friendly criticism - David Hockney.

Mr Hockney, normally resident in Los Angeles, was not altogether gushing about the show, the most controversial items of which include a parade of 6ft fish-tanks, in which neatly sliced cross-sections of two cows are eerily suspended in formaldehyde and another pair of tanks containing halves (lengthways) of a very friendly-looking pig. "Well, it's sort of a fairground in here," Mr Hockney suggests, fiddling with the remote control on his hearing aid. "I suppose it is the attraction of 3-D photography".

Mr Bowie notes that appreciating the artworks is a bit of a challenge with 200 people in the single-room gallery, most of them much more interested in inspecting each other. But why should he worry? He admits to owning a Hirst-efact: a mini-tank with a suspended, dead guppy.

VERSACE appears to have used the gut-section of one of the cows as the preferred back-drop for all the photographs being taken of him by the assembled paparazzi. But would the Italian fashion prince buy these embalmed specimens and display them in his dining room?

"No, I don't think so," he replied. He is taken, however, by the huge piece that consists of those electronic advertising billboards where vertical slats rotate to reveal three different images. First it displays the message "The Problem with Relationships", then comes the Warhol-like image of cucumber and a jar of vaseline. Well. But Versace can only dream: every item has been sold. The cows are going to an LA museum.

Intruding on the artist, the centre of attention in this quintessential SoHo scene, Flat Earth gently inquired about the names of some of the pieces. "This Little Piggy Went To Market, This Little Piggy Stayed Home", for the pig halves was easy to grasp. But what about "Some Comfort Gained from the Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in Everything" for the hapless cows?

Hirst says something about the conflict between the organic (all those nasty inside body parts) and the geometric neatness of the butchery and the tanks. And what "comfort" is gained precisely, the reporter crassly persists. "Comfort?" says Hirst, squinting. "I am going to make lots of money."

WHERE would Hirst be without his shock value, though? The first attempt to get his work into America failed when government health inspectors balked at the copulating-cows exhibit and another of a dead cow's head being eaten by maggots. (Wouldn't the maggots hatch and fill Gotham with foreign flies?)

The Mad Cow scare added a new dimension to the concern this time, but the fact that the animals were immersed in formaldehyde finally convinced inspectors to let the pieces in.

Yet some indignant voices are still being raised. "Hirst's work seems to be nothing more than psychopathology masquerading as art," the American animal-rights group Peta fulminated. "If he weren't an artist, he'd probably be put away."

Indeed, there is just no ignoring those poor, sliced-up animals. Thank heavens a security guard intervenes just as one of my bulkier newspaper colleagues, a little the worse the wear from wine, is subsiding against the first in the line of cow tanks. "Please don't lean on the exhibits," the guard pleaded. "We don't want to start a domino effect, do we?" No, indeed.

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff