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Is it Art or Is It Shock?

Recently, I’ve reading a lot about the artist Damian Hirst, both his personal and professional life. He is a British sensationalist, if you will – that specializes at metaphorically slapping his audience members in the face with his shock-value packed work. da_2141050b

What you see above is Hirst standing in front of a dead shark – that was killed for the creation of this piece – that is floating in a tank filled with formaldehyde. Initially after seeing this I think to myself, “What is the point of that?” I have been told that Hirst’s mission is to force the audience to think about and deal with death so that they can truly enjoy life. Okay. Alright. I appreciated that until I read about who Hirst was as a person. The unassuming man that you see above is the same man that regularly drops his draws on the top of a bar at 3 a.m. after ingesting more alcohol than humanly possible, smokes like a chimney,  and wouldn’t be himself if he wasn’t tripping on something – and all of this with his young son by his side. Now, I realize that many great artists didn’t and don’t have the most put together personal life, but I find that if you can’t practice what you preach even a little bit your work takes a hit. If you have taken it upon yourself to be the “truth cannon” and demand that people appreciate their lives by shoving death in their faces – and yet you lead such a destructive life the validity of the work is reduced to nothing. All I see is man fighting for fame and fortune via shock value. To me this is not art. To me this is reckless.