Damien Hirst is a big name, a man who has often fielded criticism but is also much loved and regularly makes headlines. He is the ultimate artist, having achieved worldwide fame akin to the pop art phenomenon in the 1980s, the trailblazing artistic movement that many consider to be responsible for the globalisation of art. Hirst manages to stir up interest everywhere – Europe, America and even Asia – without encountering cultural or political obstacles.

Known as primarily for his often sarcastic, imposing and innovative artistic works (including dead animals preserved in formaldehyde, displays of pills and the famous diamond-studded skull), Hirst is a true master of the sales pitch. In recent months, his work has been on display at François Pinault’s two Venetian showrooms, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, in a very ambitious and revolutionary exhibition telling the story of Cif Amotan II, a freed, first-century slave who mysteriously lost his entire collection at sea, from whence it has now ostensibly been recovered. In Venice, these lost treasures are now on display, some encrusted with corals and seashells. Are we perhaps being offered a glimpse of our shipwrecked culture? “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” appears to confront this very issue in a highly provocative way. 

What is certain is that, like it or not, Hirst’s artistic vision contains a message that lingers in the thoughts and memories of audiences across the globe.

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