I've tried to sort out who has seen the exhibition as opposed to scanned the press release.
There aren't any images of the exhibition in this blog post because he's licenced all the images to Getty Images (click the link to have a look!) who have a fairly hefty charge for using them.
Synopsis of key points
Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable
9 April 2017 – 3 December 2017
|Punta della Dogana, Venice|
- Themes of Reality vs Unreality; Fake News; False Facts etc.
- based on the notion that these are artefacts recovered from the bottom of the sea - from the wreck of an old treasure ship discovered off the coast of East Africa
- uses the methodology of museums to present the exhibits
- a 60ft high headless demon can be found in the courtyard of Palazzo Grassi
- some exhibits are clear spoofs e.g. they include the faces of people such as Pharrell, Kate Moss, Rihanna et al
- the exhibition is on display in two museums in Venice - one is an ex-Palazzo and the other is Venice's old customs building, the Dogana da Mar - which is now an art museum
- the project took 10 years
- comprises a collection of 189 statues
- created by hundreds of craftspeople employed by Hirst
- cost c.£50 million - according to Hirst
The Art Media
- not everything is bronze or marble - there's also quite a lot is aluminium, polyester and fibreglass
- Hirst's project partner - the man who owns the art galleries - is Francois Pinault
- the fashion billionaire who owns luxury brands (e.g. Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen) and well-known everyday brands (e.g.) Samsonite - and Christies, the Auction House
- the owner of one of the largest collections of contemporary art
Is it for Sale?
“Treasures” cost Mr. Hirst millions of dollars to produce and Mr. Pinault millions to present (exact figures were not disclosed by either man). Collectors who have been offered the works report that prices start around $500,000 apiece rising to upward of $5 million. With Damien Hirst’s market untested on such a grand scale, the question the art world is asking is, will he sink or swim in Venice?
In 2008, Hirst cut out the gallery and went straight to the Sotheby's auction house to sell a complete show Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, - the day before the crash - and made £111m. ($198 million) and created a new record for the sum raised by one artist at auction (unbelievable but true!)
This time around he seems to have created another project but this time a major contemporary art collector who owns the auction house - can collaborate on how it is marketed, presented and presumably sold.
In other words, this is what rich people do for fun....
...and to maintain the value of the art owned by art collectors and previously created by Hirst whose reputation has slipped in previous years.
Think of it as the second coming - or as one wag put it "Elvis returns to Vegas"!
Below are reviews I've read and are worth a read to get a perspective on this art market/museum/exhibition phenomenon.
- The Guardian | Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable review – a titanic return by Jonathan Jones Artist has once again found the underwater grotto in his mind where monsters live, making a fool out of all of us who lost faith
- Evening Standard | Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, exhibition review: A triumphant return from Damien Hirst by Mathew Collings Damien Hirst’s triumphant comeback show in Venice is a timely reflection on fakery, belief, truth and absolutes
The show is in fact a fiction about value and meaning, and the role of art as truth.
A blogger who has actually seen it
- Cat Bauer Venice Blog | Unbelievable! Damien Hirst in Venice: Best Seen Through the Eyes of a Child What is most interesting about Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable is that Damien Hirst has hit upon on a creative principle innate to novelists: you can create a fictional story; you can create characters -- you can create an entire world -- and bring that world to life.
Trying to remain detached
- The New York Times | Damien Hirst Is Back With an Underwater Fantasy. Will Collectors Care? It’s a giant financial gamble for art’s king of controversy, who is trying for a comeback.
- Artnet News | Damien Hirst’s New Venice Show Is an ‘Unbelievable’ Journey to the Depths of Bling Micky Mouse and ancient goddesses populate the artist's fantastical exhibit.
- The Financial Times | Damien Hirst in Venice — a fantasy too far? Even by the British artist’s high-glitz standards, his new show is an extravagant affair
Probably the best actual description of the show - with some acute comments.
You begin to realise that the fictional narrative in which we’re engaged — or not — is much like a video game, with pathways endlessly dividing into other story strands.
Not the usual exhibition review
Metro | Freaky, mind-bending photos from Damien Hirst’s ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ post-truth exhibition in Venice
This one has some great photos and some snappy comments!
Hirst’s latest exhibition makes you question the fakeness and reality of what you’re seeing, and why we go to museums at all.Daily Mail | Could his £50million fake shipwreck be the downfall of Damien? LIZ JONES gets a sinking feeling at Hirst's 'sea treasures' spectacular
Here’s the avant-garde artist’s take on cultcha.
The sculptures are spoofs of the kinds of artifacts people will queue for hours to see, from Medusa’s severed stone head…
I rather liked this one. It has a strong sense of "the Emperor's New Clothes" about it
It's all very colourful, glitzy and embellished, and everyone is mwah-mwahing and clapping, but would you actually want to wear it?and
There is an 18m tall statue in one courtyard, a Buddha made from one enormous piece of jade and a silver room, which is when, for me, it all became a bit 'ground-floor of Harrods'.
Previous posts about Damien Hirst
- Review: Damien Hirst at Tate Modern
- Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst on BBC4
- Plus my review of his paintings is contained in this post
Damien Hirst's paintings are really awful. I've seen better painting and better artwork in a primary school. It really is not worth spending any time on them.