For the Love of God
"For the Love of God" is a sculpture by artist
Damien Hirstproduced in 2007. It consists of a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear-shaped pink diamond located in the forehead of the skull. Costing £14 million to produce, the work went on display at the White Cubegallery in Londonat an asking price of £50 million, which would have been the highest price ever paid for a single work by a living artist. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6712015.stm BBC News article] , retrieved 1 June 2007.]
The human skull used as the base for the work, bought in a shop in
Islington, is thought to be that of a European living between 1720and 1810.. The work's title was supposedly inspired by Hirst's mother, who once asked, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?” [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03Style-skull-t.html, New York Times article] . Retrieved 3 June 2007.]
8,601 flawless pavé diamonds, weighing in total 1,106.18 carats,Dorment, Richard, [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/06/01/bahirst101.xml "For the love of art and money"] , "
Daily Telegraph", 1 June 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007] over a platinum cast, cover the entirety of the skull, with the exception of the original teeth of the skull. At the centre of the forehead lies a pear-shaped pink diamond, the centrepiece of the work. All diamonds used for the work are said to be ethically sourced.
1 June 2007, the work went on display in an illuminated glass case in a darkened room on the top floor of the White Cube gallery in St James's, Londonwith heavy security [http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/player/nol/newsid_6710000/newsid_6712200?redirect=6712245.stm&news=1&nbwm=1&nbram=1&bbwm=1&bbram=1 BBC news report] , retrieved 1 June 2007.] . It was reported on 11 June 2007 that the singer George Michaeland his partner Kenny Gosswere interested in purchasing the piece for around £50 million. [http://uk.news.launch.yahoo.com/dyna/article.html?a=/11062007/344/george-eyes-50m-diamond-skull.html&e=l_news_dm, Yahoo! Music (UK)] , retrieved 11 June 2007]
John LeKay, a friend of Hirst's in the early 1990s, claims the work is based on a skull covered with crystals, which LeKay had made in 1993. LeKay said, "When I heard he was doing it, I felt like I was being punched in the gut. When I saw the image online, I felt that a part of me was in the piece. I was a bit shocked." [Alberge, Dalya. [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article1991133.ece "My old friend Damien stole my skull idea",] " The Times", 27 June 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.]
A photo of the work thrown out with rubbish bags outside the White Cube gallery was a spoof by an artist "Laura" who created a replica skull with 6522 Swarovski crystals. [Rawlings, Ashley. [http://www.tokyoartbeat.com/tablog/entries.en/2007/07/damien-hirsts-50m-artwork-trashed.html "Damien Hirst’s £50m artwork trashed: London’s White Cube Gallery gets bored with Hirst’s diamond skull, chucks it out"] , with photo of the spoof, tokyoartbeat.com,
18 July 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.]
Hirst claims that the piece was sold on
30 August 2007, for £50 million, to an anonymous consortium [ [http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article2914384.ece Article in The Independent] ] . Christina Ruiz, editor of The Art Newspaper, claims that Hirst had failed to find a buyer and had been trying to offload the skull for £38 millionOwen, Glen and Dunbar, Polly. "Daily Mail", 9 September 2007.] . Immediately after these allegations were made, Hirst claimed he had sold it for the full asking price, in cash, leaving no paper trail. Harry Levy, vice chairman of the London Diamond Bourse and Club, said "I would estimate the true worth of the skull as somewhere between £7 million and £10 million." Her Majesty's Revenue and Customswould expect £8.5 million in VAT payments, if Hirst really did receive £50 million. David Lee, editor of "The Jackdaw", commented "Everyone in the art world knows Hirst hasn't sold the skull. It's clearly just an elaborate ruse to drum up publicity and rewrite the book value of all his other work."
Richard Dorment, art critic of the "
Daily Telegraph" wrote: "If anyone but Hirst had made this curious object, we would be struck by its vulgarity. It looks like the kind of thing Asprey or Harrods might sell to credulous visitors from the oil states with unlimited amounts of money to spend, little taste, and no knowledge of art. I can imagine it gracing the drawing room of some African dictator or Colombian drug baron. But not just anyone made it - Hirst did. Knowing this, we look at it in a different way and realise that in the most brutal, direct way possible, For the Love of God questions something about the morality of art and money."
In 2007 Polish artist
Peter Fusscreated "For the Laugh of God", a similar work made from plastic and glass (including 9870 imitation diamonds) and costing about £1000, saying "Our British friends, we are coming to rescue you! Like the cheap Polish labour well known to you, Polish artist Peter Fuss wishes to relieve the British nation from such a great expense". [http://peterfuss.com/forthelaughofgod/index.html Peter Fuss homepage] , retrieved 23 March 2008.] [http://modelatoreng.blogspot.com/2007/06/peter-fuss-for-laugh-of-god.html Modelator Art Blog] , retrieved 23 March 2008.]
Notes and references
* [http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/damien_hirst1/ frieze review of For the Love of God]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/core/Slideshow/slideshowContentFrameFragXL.jhtml;jsessionid=M31NCTVAF04SFQFIQMGCFFOAVCBQUIV0?xml=/arts/2007/06/02/pixskull.xml&site=Arts Pictures of the work's manufacture]
* [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article1991133.ece Plagiarism claims]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/review/6713309.stm Interview with video]
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