Damien Hirst, Dead Cows and Cradles of Hope

“I have a really good business manager,” said Damien Hirst. “He told me a long time ago ‘You’d better make sure that you’re using the money to chase your art ideas rather than the art to chase your money ideas.’ Which is a very important thing to never forget.”

That is sound advice coming from Mr. Hirst, 44, the “most prominent member of the group known as Young British Artists” Mr. Hirst, with the help of his business manager, has become a multi-millionaire. The “art” upon which Mr. Hirst has built this fortune includes “pickled sharks, the corpse of a cow suspended from a rope, its entrails lying beneath it alongside banknotes, and the severed head of a cow covered in live, buzzing flies.” The dominant theme of his body of work (pun intended) is death.

So it is particularly sweet that Mr. Hirst has teamed with one of his biggest collectors, Victor Pinchuk, to fund a new neonatal center in Kiev, Ukraine, “Cradles of Hope.” Mr. Hirst donated $320,000 to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation for the purchase of 60 pieces of equipment used to treat babies born with extremely low birth weight. The money came from the sale in February 2009 of a painting called “Dark Days.”

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation was established in 2006 by Ukrainian billionaire industrialist Victor Pinchuk. The goal of the foundation “is to contribute to the modernization of Ukraine and to bringing up a new generation of Ukrainian leaders who are committed to serving the country.” The Foundation has six ambitious fields of focus: Health, Education, Culture, Human Rights, Ukrainian Economy, Local Community.

See Also:
Damien Hirst says crisis will stimulate artists [Reuters; April 24, 2009]
Hirst Teams with Pinchuk to Fund Ukrainian Neonatal Center [ARTINFO; April 24, 2009]
Damien Hirst [Wikipedia]
Viktor Pinchuk [Wikipedia]

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Hitler Paintings Sell At Auction

A British auction house sold a series of 13 watercolors on Thursday, April 23, 2009, painted by Adolph Hitler during the years 1908 and 1914, when the young man lived in Vienna. Richard Westwood-Brookes, of Mullock’s Auctioneers, speculated that had Mr. Hitler been “accepted into the Vienna Academy, which was where he wanted to be, … then we would have known him today as an artist and not as an evil tyrant.”

The paintings are said to have been brought to Great Britain by a soldier who had served with the Royal Manchester Regiment, when it was stationed in the German city of Essen in 1945. The soldier sold the paintings to a collector, who then stored them in his garage for the past 60 years.

As the Associated Press astutely reports,

Best known as the genocidal dictator who butchered millions in his quest to unite Europe under German rule, Hitler also had a largely unsuccessful career as an artist in his early years. He is believed to have painted hundreds of pieces, although most art critics have been unmoved.

The 13 paintings and a collection of official Nazi magazines sold for 97,672 pounds ($143,358).

See Also:
Reputed Hitler watercolors sell at English auction [AP; April 23, 2009]
Hitler paintings sold for 95,589 pounds [AFP; April 23, 2009]

Nazi Looted Art Returned on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Max Stern did not live to see the day. In 1937, the Jewish art dealer was ordered by the Nazis to sell his collection of 228 paintings. He then fled to England and later moved to Canada.

One of the paintings from Dr. Stern’s collection was a 1632 Dutch Old Master called “Portrait of a Musician Playing a Bagpipe.” Lawrence Steigrad, a New York art dealer, had purchased it from a London dealer, who called him at the end of March and told him of the paintings origins. It was seized on April 2, 2009, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, to be returned to the estate of Max Stern, who died in 1987. Philip Mould Ltd., the gallery that sold the painting to Mr. Steigrad, has reimbursed the dealer for his purchase.

The painting will be returned in a ceremony April 21, 2009, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. Dr. Stern’s estate was left to to McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

See Also:
U.S. Seizes Old Master Lost in Nazi-Era Forced Sale (Update1) [Bloomberg.com; April 21, 2009]
Another painting stolen by Nazis recovered by Montreal art dealer’s estate [Canadian Press; April 21, 2009]

Journalist Arrested Covering Katie Couric’s Journalism Award

On the surface it looks like the ultimate irony. Documentary filmmaker and journalist John Ziegler was detained by police and threatened with arrest just for showing up at the University of Southern California and doing the thing that journalists are supposed to do: asking questions. Mr. Ziegler was covering an awards ceremony honoring CBS Evening News diva Katie Couric for her 2008 “interview” with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. As CBSnews.com references the event:

Evening News anchor Katie Couric was honored for her “extraordinary, persistent and detailed multi-part interviews with Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin” which judges called a “defining moment in the 2008 presidential campaign.”

The award for Special Achievement for National Impact on the 2008 Campaign was bestowed on Ms. Couric at the Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.

John Ziegler is the executive producer of Media Malpractice. He went to USC “to witness and ask questions about Katie Couric getting the Walter Cronkite journalism award for her interview of Sarah Palin.” He also had copies of his film that he intended to give away. But he was almost immediately handcuffed and roughed up by USC police, who also took away his microphone, while a cameraman recorded it all on video.

You can watch the entire disturbing video at Hotair.com. The irony begins to fade as the chill settles in. In case the USC police, professors, Norman Lear, CBS News or anyone else needs a refresher course on the United States Constitution, let’s start with the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights (ratified December 15, 1791):

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Ms. Couric may be a little unclear on the role of a free press in a free society, but Mr. Ziegler understands perfectly.

See Also:
Media Malpractice: How Obama Got Elected and Palin was Targeted

Happy Birthday to David Gilhooly

David Gilhooly

David Gilhooly

On any given April 15th, many Americans are sweating out last minute tax returns. But my thoughts always turn to my good friend David Gilhooly. He was born April 15, 1943, in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. A sculptor, painter, printmaker and all-around fine artist, David rose to prominence in the 1960s as a creative force of the California Funk Art movement.

In the late 1980’s, I had the privilege of getting to know David Gilhooly when I worked as his assistant at a printmaking studio in California. In 1999, he shared his ideas with me in an interview for my web site, Art2u. Ten years later, From FrogWorld to ShadowLand: A Conversation with David Gilhooly is still worth a read.

Happy Birthday David!