Last night, Damien Hirst's world-devouring retrospective of "Spot" paintings opened at every Gagosian Gallery location on Earth, forcing critics to wrest meaning from little (and big) colored circles and prompting curiosity seekers to visit their local retailer and see the spectacle for themselves. ARTINFO was there too — and while we don't have quite enough bureaus yet to win the Global Spot Challenge, we were able to dispatch eyes and ears to four out of the 11 venues. Here's a breakdown of what we saw.
Click the accompanying slide show to see highlights from the show's openings in New York, Paris, Hong Kong, and London.
The crowd that filled Gagosian’s 24th Street garage was just large enough to make the space feel crowded, but small enough that the paintings remained the center of attention over the scenesters. Visitors played the old which-one-would-you-take-home game while guards stationed in literally every corner looked on severely, discouraging photography and other varieties of fun. Word on the street was that Hirst was scheduled to make an appearance at each of the New York City Gagosian openings (24th Street, 21st Street, and the Madison Ave space), but ARTINFO arrived, and left, too early to catch the veteran artist’s victory lap. Just as well, we forgot to put on our Hirst-brand cufflinks.
Later on, at a different gallery opening not far away, ARTINFO noticed a young woman wearing a polka-dot dress and a pasteboard hat decorated with four brightly colored spots. The sight made us sad, but in a way we couldn't quite define.
— Kyle Chayka, ARTINFO
The Paris opening was a relatively low-key affair — a small but steady stream of visitors trickled through Gagosian's space in the Triangle d'Or. The ground floor held 12 larger and later paintings, while the upstairs studio showcased works from the 1990s. The French were, unsurprisingly, more enamored with the earlier, rougher works that showed more of Hirst's hand. Audiences were also attracted to the artist’s circular canvases. Still, gallery staff seemed most excited about the lone visitor who had come for his first stamp in the Global Spot Challenge.
— Nicolai Hartvig, ARTINFO France
It’s been one year since Damien Hirst arrived in Hong Kong as the inaugural poster boy of the brand-spanking-new Gagosian space in the center of the city. That event was one of extraordinary pomp and ceremony. Just 12 months later, Hirst and his work has returned, but this time to a considerably more sober reception. A moderate crowd for the much-publicized event populated the grand space of the Pedder Street gallery.
There were no grand speeches or jovial photo ops with the man of the hour. Instead, guests gently eddied through the gallery doors while Hong Kong Gagosian director Nick Simunovic spent the evening speaking with a motley crew of Hong Kong’s diamond-clad art-buying elite, plus the considerable number of onlookers who just wanted to see what all the fuss is about.
— Mary Agnew, ARTINFO China
At Gagosian’s Britannia Street space, the four museum-like galleries didn’t exactly feel empty, but the crowd wasn’t as impressive as the media frenzy surrounding the exhibitions might have lead one to believe. Tate Modern director Chris Derconmade an appearance, and (having lent a significant number of works for the shows) the White Cube contingent was out in full force. Hip art students and the usual flock of pretty twenty-somethings that form a part of Gagosian's standard furniture acted as room-fillers.
Over at the Davies Street gallery five minutes before the official closing time of 8 p.m., it was just this ARTINFO reporter, three guys with their kids, and four security guards looking at their watches. Not much Mayfair glam.
— Coline Milliard, ARTINFO UK