Spot the Difference: A Helpful Key to Damien Hirst's Global Gagosian Show

Most Likely to give you an ocular migraine, Damien Hirst's "L-Lyxose," 2009
(© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2011. Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates)

Vulgar status symbols. Visual barbiturates. Ridiculously expensive wallpaper. Say what you will about artstar Damien Hirst’s "Spot" paintings — tonight they descend on the world in a pandemic of 11 shows across Gagosian’s franchises in New York, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Geneva, Athens, and Hong Kong.

Despite all appearances of monotony, Hirst’s spots come in a cornucopia of shapes, sizes, colors, creeds, and druggy pharmaceutical references. Compare, for instance, the monolithic “Erbium Oxide,” composed of four spots — each one five feet in diameter — to the postage-stamp-sized “5-Bromozytidine,” tiny enough to fit into the palm of Blue Ivy Carter's privileged little hand. Madison Avenue boasts the most cumulative spots, with its canvases covered in thousands of miniscule Ben-Day-esque dots. Across the pond, less is more at the Davies Street location in London, where the spot count comes to a modest 124 and a half. “Moxisylyte” — named after a treatment for erectile dysfunction — wins the coveted title of most virile painting, while the abruptly-truncated "Bromchlorophenol Blue" leaves the most to the imagination (though that's still not saying much). 

Of course, the Hirst-Gagosian dream team encourages us to soak in the infinite variety of the "Spots" in the flesh, and is offering anyone who manages to visit all 11 exhibitions a personalized "Spot" print. It's a tempting offer, but for the 99 percent who can't afford to take the "Spot" painting challenge, ARTINFO brings the highlights of the exhibition to your computer monitors. From the oldest to the newest, largest to smalles, most cheerfully insipid to most labotimizingly boring, we have abridged the 300-plus works on view to spotlight (heh) the biggest, baddest, and ugliest of the "Spots" in all their pied beauty, mercenary opportunism, and grandiose lunacy.  

Oldest: “Spot Painting” (1986), at New York's Madison Avenue gallery

Newest: “L-Isoleucinol” (2011), at New York's 21st Street gallery

Gallery With Most Spots: New York's Madison Avenue gallery 

Gallery With Fewest Spots: London's Davis Street gallery

Biggest Canvas: “Pivalic Acid” (2005), measuring 21 x 21 ft. at the Beverly Hills gallery 

Smallest Canvas: “5-Bromozytidine” (1996), measuring 1 x 0.5 in. at London's Davies Street gallery

Biggest Spots: “Erbium Oxide” (2009), measuring 15 x 15 ft. with 5 ft. spots, at New York's 24th Street gallery 

Smallest Spots: “L-Isoleucinol” (2010-2011), measuring 10 x 16 in. with 1 mm. spots, at New York's 21st Sreet gallery

Sweetest Title: “Untitled (Nick, Margot, Chris, India)” (1999), at the Beverly Hills gallery

Weirdest Title: “Dantrolene (Being God (For Dave)” (1994), at New York's Madison Avenue gallery

Biggest Mouthful of a Title: “N-T-Boc-L-Alanine N-Hydroxysuccinimide Ester” (1995), at London's Davies Street gallery

To see other notable "Spot" paintings, click the accompanying slide show.