World-renowned artist Damien Hirst created two art works for a new London restaurant that opened last week, Tramshed. The central art work is uncreatively titled “Cock and Bull” (2012) and is comprised of a “Hereford cow and cockerel preserved in a steel and glass tank of formaldehyde,” according to the restaurant’s website. It’s worth mentioning that the work is installed 4m (about 13 feet) above diners.
Part of the artist’s signature Natural History series, the newly unveiled work makes you wonder what the hell Hirst is thinking. He certainly doesn’t need the money and this work makes some of his most successful work (branding wise, anyway) appear more trite — though many people would agree that the series has long ago jumped the formaldehyde shark, most notable with that ridiculous golden calf from 2008.
An an accompaniment — is that what it is? — to the central sculpture, Hirst has also created a painting, “Beef and Chicken” (2012), for the restaurant. The work depicts two quirky late 1990s cartoon characters “Cow and Chicken.” Less said about this the better.
As artist brands evolved with the rise of Modernism and its transition into Postmodernism — and whatever it is we’re in nowadays — it has become commonplace to see artists endorse commercialism of all types and most of the time unabashedly. Rothko painted panels for the Four Seasons restaurant in New York (though he never installed them) and Hirst has already ventured into the world of restaurants with Pharmacy (1998–2003). Love it or hate it, this type of branding is going nowhere but one wonders if Hirst could have accomplished his Transhed contribution with more, well, creativity perhaps.
Call me crazy but for some reason Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde animals — particularly “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991) — are starting to remind me more and more of the tank in the laboratory of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Coincidence?
h/t Arrested Motion