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Hirst's poor
cut-up pig

Debby Davis
Visible Pig, 1984.
Saatchi collection

Hirst's spin
painting (detail)

Walter Robinson
Black Spirit, 1985.

Hirst's floating

Hans Haacke
Floating Sphere

Hirst's revolving

Hirst's big

Hirst's poor
cut-up cow

damien hirst 
at larry gagosian 

by Edward Helmore

Damien Hirst's circus of dismembered 

livestock, spin paintings and a beach ball 

held aloft by jets of air rolled into New 

York on Friday, May 4 [to June 15], to an 

art-world reception that has not been seen 

in the naked city for years. The show, 

which has delayed for six months over 

objections by the Sanitation Department to 

having rotting meat within their 

jurisdiction, packed in the heavy-hitters 

of Manhattan life and beyond. 

"It's like a fairground isn't it," said 

David Hockney, casting his eye over the 

show's principal attraction of two cows cut 

into slices and suspended sequentially in 

12 formaldehyde-filled tanks. "This is like 

the attraction of 3-D photography."

David Bowie, who likes to keep one of the 

artist's pieces--a pocket-size pickled 

fish--near him at all times, remarked that 

the show marked Hirst's conquest of 

America. "He made it an hour ago," he said, 

an hour into the opening. "You won't see 

him for dust now." 

Frockmeister Gianni Versace and Vogue queen 

Anna Wintour agreed that though desirable, 

the 40-foot-long, revolving tri-vision 

advertising hording, titled The Problems 

with Relationships and depicting one 

screen of Vaseline and a cucumber followed 

by another of a hammer and peach, was too 

big for their living rooms. 

Gallery proprietor Larry Gagosian, who may 

be America's most prominent contemporary 

art dealer, enthused that the energy at the 

opening "just came off the walls."

"It reminds me of the East Village in its 

heyday or the Jean-Michel Basquiat show in 

Los Angeles in 1982. This crosses all 

borders because people respond to 

authenticity and strength and it's a good 

kick in the ass for American artists." 

Later at a party, Hirst's London dealer, 

Jay Jopling, attempted to explain the 

triumph." He's made a show that is brash, 

confident and, perversely enough, feels 

very American. I hope people here are 

provoked by the work as much as they are 

back in England."

Though most of the pieces at the show are 

new works, they derive from ideas that the 

artist has already followed in European 


"It's a celebration of the obvious because 

every one of those pieces is something he 

has done before but made larger," remarked 

Clarissa Dalrymple. "The way that it is 

installed has a maze-like quality."

Hirst, attended by his mother and sister, 

was asked to clarify the title of the cow 

piece, Some Comfort Gained from the 

Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in 

Everything. He said explained it simply by

noting that it was "worth a lot of money."

Meanwhile, Hirst's mother said that her 

son's preoccupation with Lego as a child 

had paid off. "It's exhilarating and I am 

so proud. To me he's still my little boy." 

Damian Hirst at Larry Gagosian, 136 Wooster

Street, till June 15, 1996.

Edward Helmore is the New York

correspondent for the London Observer.