Damien Hirst's Tate show 'insulted intelligence'
Critics hailed retrospective but 190 visitors were incensed by 'repetitive', 'meaningless' art works
DAMIEN HIRST'S highly-publicised solo show at London's Tate Modern gallery was acclaimed as the perfect cultural accompaniment to the London Olympics.
But the Daily Telegraph has revealed that some visitors to the exhibition were underwhelmed – even angered – by what they described as the banality and cruelty on display.
Hirst (above), who sprang to fame as part of the so-called Young British Artists movement championed by Charles Saatchi, shocked and scandalised the public with works including a dead shark and a bisected cow.
But it wasn't so much the shock-value of the artworks that irritated the 192 visitors who complained via email or comment cards. Many were "horrified by the lack of talent on display", the paper says.
They accused the gallery of wasting public money by showcasing art that was "repetitive", "meaningless" and "almost universally awful".
One visitor questioned the meaning of Hirst's work, labelling the show "an insult to people's intelligence and a disgrace for a world-class gallery". Another said it was "cunningly, successfully purveying nothing".
The Hirst show was a cornerstone of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and included some of his best-known work, including spot and spin paintings, collections of pillboxes, and dead animals suspended in giant vitrines.
In a four-star review of the show, the Daily Telegraph's Richard Dorment said the restrospective confirmed Hirst as a "serious – if wildly uneven – artist". He added: "In many ways this is a difficult show, but I left it with a sense of Hirst as an artist whose moral stature can no longer be questioned."
Some of Tate's visitors clearly disagreed, objecting in particular to Hirst's treatment of insects. One room contained dozens of live butterflies while a piece called A Thousand Years consisted of a box where hundreds of flies were born then zapped by an electric flykiller.
"I was appalled by [the] torture chamber for flies, who are half fried and are left dying on the floor of the chamber," wrote a visitor to the show. "I am shocked that in England, where the Society for the Protection of Animals originated, such a display is allowed."
A Tate Modern spokesman said nearly half a million people saw the Hirst show, which elicited an "overwhelmingly positive response from the media and public". ·