Damien’s First

Damien Hirst – our Damien – the original YBA, bad-boy artist, and art-world money-bags. This substantial show at Tate Modern, amazingly his first major public-institution show in the UK, features all his greatest hits and turns out to be a not un-coherent exhibition.

Because it turns out that no matter how familiar you are with the shark(s), butterflies, medicine, spots, spins, and of course diamonds, they are still powerful enough in the flesh.

It surely also counts as a conversational necessity to see what will inevitably be a much-discussed blockbuster of an exhibition, certainly one likely to generate more controversy than say Leonardo or Hockney.

In addition, whatever his merits (or otherwise), “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” remains an all-time great title quite independent of the piece itself, and to re-enjoy other parts of the work (we’re thinking the “In and Out of Love” butterfly room in particular) is a pleasure.

Overview: prepare to be baffled by the skull, shocked by the shark, and knowing about the absence of “No Love Lost” works – and if you thought you knew it all already, you probably did, but it’s worth a visit anyway.

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