all hail the skull!!


You just can’t argue with this work of art. You can’t fault it. I’ve examined it with the critical equivalent of a jeweller’s eyepiece. I compared it to Holbein’s anamorphic skull in The Ambassadors, as well as the turquoise Aztec skull in the British Museum. It is comparable to those masterpieces, not derivative.

It’s something no artist could ever do before – that is, as a modern work of art. The objects it resembles – from Tutankhamun’s gold death mask to a silver monument to Alexander Nevsky in the Hermitage – were commissioned from nameless craftsmen by all-powerful rulers. No modern ruler has the authority to do such a thing, and up until now, no artist was in a position to emulate them. So Hirst truly has created an exceptional object. It is not merely an expensive work of art, but a great one. It has a primitivism that renews art for our time just as Picasso’s discovery of African and Oceanic masks renewed art a century ago: it promises that art in this century might yet become as new and as ancient as the best art of all ages. I can’t think of a period that wouldn’t be amazed and delighted by it: Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare and the Aztecs would all be flocking to White Cube. You should go, too.

more from The Guardian here.