Artist Damien Hirst’s plan to build hundreds of houses in the north Devon countryside has been described as his most ‘breathtakingly bold’ and ‘shocking’ artistic statement since 1991’s famous ‘Rotten Shark in Brine’ piece.
In a work entitled “The Physical Impossibility of an Overdraft in the Bank Account of Hirst”, the artist has submitted a planning application to North Devon council for 750 homes, a school, shops, health centre, cycle path and a giant erect penis the size of a jumbo jet on the edge of the seaside town of Ilfracombe.
Much of the art world has praised the plans, with Tate Gallery Director Nicholas Serota insisting that the thousand buildings will blend into the countryside with all the subtlety you would expect from the man who put a 66 foot bronze statue of a pregnant woman holding a sword on the town’s seafront.
“It’s a powerful, breathtaking statement,” explained Serota, “Which makes you examine the very nature of town planning and countryside protection, and raises many questions, not least ‘Where the hell did all those fields go?'”
Not all critical opinion has been positive, however, with the whiff of plagiarism once again raising its ugly head. The Guardian’s art critic Adrian Searle has pointed out that Hirst’s plans bear more than a passing similarity to Tracy Emin’s recent work “Application for Kitchen Extension with Patio Doors”, which itself is said to heavily reference Andy Warhol’s famous “Milton Keynes” installation.
Reaction in the media has also been largely negative. The Evening Standard art critic, Brian Sewell, said simply, “I don’t think of it as art. There are countless young builders who do not get considered for the Turner prize; one thinks of Barratt Homes, one thinks of Bovis, and yet they are overlooked, purely because none of their houses are made from cows sliced in half. When will the art world learn?”
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