Saturday, September 20, 2008

We churnalists love nothing more than a meal of pickled bull

LONDON — Damien Hirst's sale of 223 new works at Sotheby's in London this week may have been a lot of things – a repudiation of the market crash, a revolutionary new way to sell art by cutting out the gallery – but above all it was a brilliantly managed marketing stunt.

All the dramatic elements were in place: punky, quote-worthy Hirst in one corner; aging art pugilist Robert Hughes in the other, making disparaging remarks about the wealthy young star; the whole thing boldly lit by hundreds of camera lights. The result was coverage as thick as a winter duvet, and two nights of sales records, fetching a total of $211-million. History will judge his art, but we know already that Hirst is a genius in one area: He's a PR wizard.

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