Sitting down with Damien Hirst


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One thing you learn from interviewing Damien Hirst is that he’s a good storyteller. Yes, the stories are filled with expletives that can make them hard to convey in a mainstream newspaper. And he talks so quickly that the anecdotes are over before you know it -- these are not 19th-century Dickensian narratives.

But he tells funny stories about his colleagues and dealers and rather wry anecdotes about himself. Here are a few bits that didn’t make it into a Saturday article about Hirst and his mega exhibition of spot paintings.


-- He has on occasion broken the rule that the colors in a single spot painting should be randomly chosen. ‘My mom had a painting I gave her and there was one color I didn’t like. It was like a purple, so next time I visited her, I changed it to orange.’

-- Wanting to own one of the five original spot paintings he made himself about two decades ago before turning the work over to assistants, Hirst had to buy one back from a collector. ‘I sold it for 300 pounds and ended up buying it back for 600,000.’ Insert expletive here.

-- He once had a spot painting hanging in a spot visible from his window, which got the neighbors talking. ‘It was the late ‘90s and I lived in a nice flat in Kensington in a place called Cranley Mews. I came out one day looking very scruffy, and my neighbor came up to me and said, ‘Excuse me: can I ask who you are.’ I said my name was Damien. ‘Are you Damien Hirst?’ she said. ‘Oh. We wondered how you could afford a spot painting.’


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-- Jori Finkel