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Friday, February 04, 2005

Swimming in Chemical Waters

The Art Newspaper is out this week with an interesting piece on conservation issues associated with the Damian Hirst shark, currently on its way to MoMA.

Formaldehyde, it turns out, isn't the optimal preservative for an object of this size. Hirst, supposedly, was aware of this but decided to use it anyway.

The article quotes a 1996 interview with the artist saying, “I did an interview about conservation and they told me formaldehyde is not a perfect form of preservation.... They actually thought I was using formaldehyde to preserve an artwork for posterity, when in reality I use it to communicate an idea.”

But what happens when an object proceeds so far down the path of decay that it is threatened with becoming pure idea? Compare the picture on the left (which I assume was taken over a decade ago) with the more recent picture on the right.

It will be quite interesting to see what MoMA's conservation department decides to do with the piece once they get their hands on it.

Also of note, The Art Newspaper names the purchaser of the piece--hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

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