Brit newspapers are rough. The Guardian’s writeup of Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in London takes aim at the artist’s legacy, opening with a claim that Hirst “lost his power to shock” and then leading into a foul story about borderline sexual assault (played for laughs strangely enough, as an example of how “shocking” he used to be).
Perhaps its an obsession with novelty above what he’s already done. One would assume that his mortality-obsessed artwork would seem weightier the older Hirst gets. His gallery, for better or worse, is now seen as an attempt to justify his reputation.
That’s not really a discussion for this post; we’re CFile and we like bricks. The Newport Street Gallery in London will open in October with works curated by Hirst. The building is designed by the Caruso St. John architecture firm, which worked with Hirst previously on some of the artist’s shows. From Hirst:
“Opening in October, Newport Street Gallery is the realisation of Hirst’s long-term ambition to share his diverse collection – which includes over 3,000 works – with the public. Exhibitions at Newport Street will vary between single artist and group shows and entry to the gallery will be free. Spanning five buildings, Newport Street has been under construction for over three years and is situated close to the River Thames and a short walk from Tate Britain.
“On the opening of the gallery, Hirst states: ‘I’ve always loved art and art deserves to be shown in great spaces, so I’ve always dreamed of having my own gallery where I can exhibit work by the artists I love. I believe art should be experienced by as many people as possible and I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it, so having a space where I can put on shows from the collection is a dream come true. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to actually own work by some of the artists who first inspired me and made me want to become an artist – like Picasso or Francis Bacon – but my favourite works by far are those by my contemporaries, and I definitely feel a responsibility to share them as much as I can. Newport Street is an incredible space with an amazing sense of history, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to wear a curatorial hat for a change, I couldn’t be happier.’”
The architects renovated industrial buildings for the gallery, which were theater and scenery painting workshops dating back to the Victorian era. From the firm:
“This private gallery in Vauxhall has involved the conversion of an extraordinary terrace of listed industrial buildings, that were formerly theatre carpentry and scenery painting workshops. The gallery forms the whole length of the street, with the three listed Victorian buildings flanked at either end by new buildings. The ground and upper floors within the five buildings are connected by big doorways through the party walls, allowing them to be used flexibly in many combinations, for the installation of art and to accommodate large and small exhibitions. The project required the construction of a new first floor level within the very tall spaces of the victorian workshops, to create two levels of galleries, sequences of beautiful and lofty rooms that stretch from one end of the building to the other. The facades of the new buildings are made with a hard pale red brick that closely matches the surface of the listed buildings. Their elevations are judged somewhere between the distinct and the obvious, contributing to the variety of the ensemble. The five buildings next to each other, all different but obviously related, make a sheer and impressive street elevation.”
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