For the Love of God
|Type||platinum, diamond, human teeth|
|Location||White Cube Gallery, London, England|
'For the Love of God' is a sculpture by artist Damien Hirst produced in 2007. It consists of a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds, including a pear-shaped pink diamond located in the forehead. Costing £14 million to produce, the work went on display at the White Cube gallery in London in an exhibition Beyond belief with an asking price of £50 million. This would have been the highest price ever paid for a single work by a living artist.
The human skull used as the base for the work, bought in a shop in Islington, is thought to be that of a European living between 1720 and 1810. The work's title was supposedly inspired by Hirst's mother, who once asked, “For the love of God, what are you going to do next?”
8,601 flawless pavé-laid diamonds, weighing in total 1,106.18 carats (221.24 g), over a platinum cast, cover the entirety of the skull, with the exception of the original teeth of the skull. At the centre of the forehead lies a pear-shaped pink diamond, the centrepiece of the work. All diamonds used for the work are said to be ethically sourced.
On 1 June 2007, the work went on display in an illuminated glass case in a darkened room on the top floor of the White Cube gallery in St James's, London with heavy security. It was reported on 11 June 2007 that the singer George Michael and his partner Kenny Goss were interested in purchasing the piece for around £50 million.
Artist John LeKay, a friend of Hirst's in the early 1990s, claims the work is based on a skull covered with crystals which LeKay had made in 1993. LeKay said, "When I heard he was doing it, I felt like I was being punched in the gut. When I saw the image online, I felt that a part of me was in the piece. I was a bit shocked." 
Hirst claims that the piece was sold on 30 August 2007, for £50 million, to an anonymous consortium. Christina Ruiz, editor of The Art Newspaper, claims that Hirst had failed to find a buyer and had been trying to offload the skull for £38 million. Immediately after these allegations were made, Hirst claimed he had sold it for the full asking price, in cash, leaving no paper trail. The consortium that bought the piece included Hirst himself. 
Harry Levy, vice chairman of the London Diamond Bourse and Club, said "I would estimate the true worth of the skull as somewhere between £7 million and £10 million." Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs would expect £8.5 million in VAT payments, if Hirst really did receive £50 million. David Lee, editor of The Jackdaw, commented "Everyone in the art world knows Hirst hasn't sold the skull. It's clearly just an elaborate ruse to drum up publicity and rewrite the book value of all his other work."
Extensive international media reporting and branding
The media coverage of the "sale" of the diamond skull was extensive and itself "Beyond belief", becoming a top story for national news providers across several countries. This has led some to question to what extent the announcement of the sale was not only a media intervention, but some kind of media art, especially as the "sale" continues to be in question. This was further supported by the performative nature of the Sotheby's exhibition and auction of Hirst's artwork the following year. In a Guardian newspaper article, Germaine Greer said, "Damien Hirst is a brand, because the art form of the 21st century is marketing. To develop so strong a brand on so conspicuously threadbare a rationale is hugely creative - revolutionary even."
Richard Dorment, art critic of the Daily Telegraph wrote: "If anyone but Hirst had made this curious object, we would be struck by its vulgarity. It looks like the kind of thing Asprey or Harrods might sell to credulous visitors from the oil states with unlimited amounts of money to spend, little taste, and no knowledge of art. I can imagine it gracing the drawing room of some African dictator or Colombian drug baron. But not just anyone made it - Hirst did. Knowing this, we look at it in a different way and realise that in the most brutal, direct way possible, For the Love of God questions something about the morality of art and money."
Regarding the announcement of the "sale" of the diamond skull, Robert Preece, an art critic of Sculpture magazine, considers it to be a kind of media art performance with the appropriation of media structures. Referring to the Sotheby's "sale" and the "sale" of the diamond skull, he writes, "I am not concerned with the details of these sales. What matters to me is that they were announced--unleashed, picked up, printed, reprinted, accelerated, translated, and multiplied across global media." This sort of approach was highlighted with a Leeds 13 art/media intervention in 1998, in which artist Leeds 13 member Sarah Thornton has described the media coverage as "art" and the journalists as participants in the art performance, and artist as celebrity publicity maker extends back to Andy Warhol, and even Jackson Pollock, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. The performative nature was later addressed in the exhibition at Tate Modern, "Pop Life: Art in a material world", to which critic Ben Lewis found it very offensive: "... the gallery texts have the temerity to claim that the greed-fuelled auction sale was a work of performance art in itself. That’s just the same as Stockhausen calling 9/11 a work of art." 
Diamond Skull exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
In November-December 2008, Hirst exhibited the diamond skull at the historic Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands amidst public controversy. The skull was exhibited next to an exhibition of paintings from the collection of the museum that were selected and curated by Hirst. According to Wim Pijbes, the museum director, there wasn't controversy however to show the skull in the historic museum among the board members. He explained that the exhibition "will attract people--and give a new aspect to the image of the Rijksmuseum as well. It boosts our image. Of course, we do the Old Masters but we are not a 'yesterday institution'. It's for now. And Damien Hirst shows this in a very strong way." A Belgian journalist in response remarked how the installation of the diamond skull at the Rijks was "an intententionally quite controversial project".
In 2007 Polish artist Peter Fuss created For the Laugh of God, a similar work made from plastic and glass (including 9870 imitation diamonds) and costing about £1000, saying "Our British friends, we are coming to rescue you! Like the cheap Polish labour well known to you, Polish artist Peter Fuss wishes to relieve the British nation from such a great expense".
In 2008, the Gaelic-language publisher, Ùr-sgeul, published a short story by Maoilios Caimbeul, An Claigeann aig Damien Hirst (Damian Hirst's Skull), as a fictional response to the work of art. This in turn was followed in 2009, by a single performed by the Gaelic rock band, Na Gathan, Claigeann Damien Hirst (Damian Hirst's Skull), released by Ùr-sgeul, which was inspired by Mr. Caimbeul's work. The song was shortlisted in the Nòs-ùr contest for a new song in a Celtic language or Scots.
In 2009, Spanish artist Eugenio Merino unveiled a piece entitled "4 The Love of Go(l)d", a giant sculpture, encased in glass, of Hirst shooting himself in the head. Merino, in fact an admirer of Hirst, intended the piece as a comment on the emphasis on money within the art world, and with Hirst in particular. "I thought that, given that he thinks so much about money, his next work could be that he shot himself," said Merino. "Like that the value of his work would increase dramatically...Obviously, though, he would not be around to enjoy it." 
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 BBC News article, retrieved 1 June 2007.
- ↑ New York Times article. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dorment, Richard, "For the love of art and money", Daily Telegraph, 1 June 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007
- ↑ BBC news report, retrieved 1 June 2007.
- ↑ Yahoo! Music (UK), retrieved 11 June 2007
- ↑ Alberge, Dalya. "My old friend Damien stole my skull idea", The Times, 27 June 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Preece, Robert. (June 2009). 'Reality check: When appropriation becomes copyright infringement'. Sculpture magazine/AD&P. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
- ↑ Laura Keeble "Forgotten Something?"
- ↑ Rawlings, Ashley. "Damien Hirst’s £50m artwork trashed: London’s White Cube Gallery gets bored with Hirst’s diamond skull, chucks it out", with photo of the spoof, tokyoartbeat.com, 18 July 2007. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- ↑ Hirst demands share of artist's £65 copies
- ↑ Byrne, Ciar (31 August 2007). "Hirst's glittering price tag loses none of its shine". The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/hirsts-glittering-price-tag-loses-none-of-its-shine-463675.html. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Owen, Glen and Dunbar, Polly. Daily Mail, 9 September 2007.
- ↑ Evening Standard The avant gardener 19 May 2009
- ↑ Robert, Preece (January/February 2008). "Why I love Damien's skull". Sculpture. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Damien-Hirst-diamond-skull-For-the-love-of-God-Robert-Preece-2008. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Greer, Germaine (22 September 2008). "Germaine Greer Note to Robert Hughes: Bob, dear, Damien Hirst is just one of many artists you don't get". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2008/sep/22/1. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Preece, Robert (March 2008). "Rock star on tour: Damien Hirst's skull at the Rijksmuseum". Sculpture. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/rock-star-on-tour-Damien-Hirst-Rijksmuseum-Marc-Quinn-Kate-Moss-British-Museum. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Kelly, Ronan (3 October 2009). "The curious ear: Grand Art". RTE.ie Radio 1. http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/cegrandart.html. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Walker, John A. (19 October 2009). "Andy Warhol: Excerpts from Art and Celebrity". Art Design Publicity. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Andy-Warhol-Celebrity-publicity-John-A-Walker-ADP-1-4-2009. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Walker, John A. (8 October 2009). "Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí & Jackson Pollock: Excerpts from Art and Celebrity". Art Design Publicity. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Pablo-Picasso-Salvador-Dali-Jackson-Pollock-Celebrity-Art-Design-Publicity-mag-2009. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ Lewis, Ben (1 October 2009). "Pop Life sells its soul for the big bucks". London Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/arts/review-23751332-pop-life-sells-its-soul-for-the-big-bucks.do. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- ↑ (1 June 2009). 'The project team: Communicating Hirst at the Rijksmuseum'. Art, Design & Publicity. Retrieved 15 December 2009.
- ↑ Peter Fuss homepage, retrieved 23 March 2008.
- ↑ Modelator Art Blog, retrieved 23 March 2008.
- ↑ Nòs-ùr competition website, retrieved 16-4-09.
- ↑ Full points not Nil point for Sunrise Not Secular. Stornoway Gazette (16-4-09)
- ↑ "'Suicide' sculpture of Damien Hirst causes controversy in Spain". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/feb/18/damien-hirst-suicide-sculpture-eugenio-moreno. Retrieved 2009-02-18.
- frieze review of For the Love of God
- Pictures of the work's manufacture
- Plagiarism claims
- Interview with video