Daily Archives: September 18, 2018

Artist Interviews :: Top Contemporary Artists? Or Are They?

Continuing forward with our discussion, what does it mean to be an artist? (in 2018) – Below, I have organized several interviews/ talks taken from various time periods with some of today’s top contemporary artists.

Several of the interviews below will be screened and discussed in class on 9/18/18.

*In the comments section below, please leave your sentiments about what you have observed.

1. Does one artist stand out to you? If so, describe why?

2. Do you see and hear more similarities or contrasts between the artists? What are they?

3. Do you have a favorite artist that you have heard speak in a recent interview or talk? Feel free to paste links into the comments section as well.


Video with Damien Hirst- 


“I just thought, ‘What can you pit against death?”[1]

‘For the Love of God’, a platinum skull set with diamonds, is one of Hirst’s most important and widely recognised works. Its raw materials define it as an artwork of unprecedented scale. The 32 platinum plates making up ‘For the Love of God’ are set with 8,601 VVS to flawless set diamonds, weighing a massive 1,106 carats. The teeth inserted into the jaw are real and belong to the original skull.

The skull from which ‘For the Love of God’ was cast, was purchased from a London taxidermist and subsequently subjected to intensive bioarchaeological analysis and radiocarbon dating. This research revealed it dated from around 1720 – 1810, and was likely to be that of a 35-year-old man of European/Mediterranean ancestry. The title originates from exclamations Hirst’s mother would make on hearing plans for new works when he was starting out as an artist. As he explains: “She used to say, ‘For the love of God, what are you going to do next!’”

‘For the Love of God’ acts as a reminder that our existence on earth is transient. Hirst combined the imagery of classic memento mori with inspiration drawn from Aztec skulls and the Mexican love of decoration and attitude towards death. He explains of death: “You don’t like it, so you disguise it or you decorate it to make it look like something bearable – to such an extent that it becomes something else.”[2]

The incorporation of the large central stone was inspired by memories of the comic ‘2000 AD’, which Hirst used to read as a child. He relates how the comic, “used to have a character in it called Tharg the Mighty who had a circle on his forehead. He was like a kind of powerful, God-like figure who controlled the universe,” Hirst explains. “It kind of just looked like it needed something. A third eye; a connection to Jesus and his dad.”[3]

Alongside their dazzling brilliance and “Eucharistic” beauty, Hirst’s fascination with diamonds results partly from the mutterings and uncertainty surrounding their inherent worth. In the face of the industry’s ability to establish their irreplaceable value, it becomes necessary to question whether they are “just a bit of glass, with accumulated metaphorical significance? Or [whether they] are genuine objects of supreme beauty connected with life.”[4] The cutthroat nature of the diamond industry, and the capitalist society which supports it, is central to the work’s concept. Hirst explains that the stones “bring out the best and the worst in people […] people kill for diamonds, they kill each other”.[5]


1. Damien Hirst – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jQ6isqr2OY

2. Jeff Koons – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZWwqlcA50w

3. Kara Walker – Domino Sugar Factory Interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRkP5rcXtys&t=2s 

4. Marina Ambramovic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4so_Z9a_u0

5. James Turrell –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bvg6kaWIeo

6. Mariko Mori – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qztEpDgYA1Y