Damien Hirst’s career has been a bit of a roller coaster. A figurehead for the British art scene during the 1990s, Hirst’s ratings soared in the 2000s, then crashed six years ago. However, the wind may be changing for the artist. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow suggests that the fact that Hirst is opening his own gallery in South London (See Damien Hirst Opens His Own Gallery in London) may generate a new wave of interest from collectors. Damien Hirst will open the new space next month with an exhibition of works by abstract painter John Hoyland.
According to the article, collectors and art specialists are preparing for an inflation in the price of Hirst’s works. “Just as the new museum opens, an independent but powerful set of dealers, collectors and art advisers are quietly betting that a surge of interest in Mr. Hirst’s new endeavor could spill over into higher sales for his art”, says Crow. Art dealer Jose Mugrabi is stocking up on the artist’s works in the hope of selling them to a new generation of collectors for a good price. Three months ago he purchased $33 million-worth of art directly from the artist himself. Art adviser Kim Heirston is encouraging her clients to buy Damien Hirst, “because Damien Hirst is here to stay”. Several advisers and specialists are pulling the invisible strings of the contemporary art market and inflating the artist’s ratings.
The workings of the art market are nothing new to Hirst, who attempted a risky manoeuvre himself in 2008. At the time, the artist’s rating was constantly high and the artist decided to bypass the galleries by selling his works directly through Sotheby’s for $200 million. The result of the gamble was that a portion of the art market turned against him, with on-going consequences. Those who in recent years have divested themselves of works by Damien Hirst, which they purchased in the 1990s have made a loss.
The 50-year-old artist may win the market over again with the Newport Street Gallery. Whether his ratings rise or not, the museum will offer free entry and will provide an opportunity for visitors to familiarize themselves with the artist’s impressive collection. There are still those who suspect Hirst of trying to boost interest in John Hoyland’s oeuvre through the exhibition. The fact remains that Damien Hirst’s intentions will forever more be viewed with suspicion.