The art world knows how to capitalize on a cultural moment like any other glamour industry. Hence, Larry Gagosian’s Thursday-night-before-the-Oscars show openings at Gagosian Beverly Hills have been a fixture on the Academy Awards party circuit for decades. The coveted slot is usually reserved for mega-stature modern artists such as Julian Schnabel and Jeff Koons. This year, the honor went to Damien Hirst, who presented his latest series, “The Veil Paintings,” after a six-year absence from Los Angeles.
The event brought out art fans of the bold-faced name variety, many of whom are also designers, including Kanye West, Tom Ford, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, Ronald Burkle, Michael Chow, Michael Govan, Olafur Eliasson, Jeffrey Deitch, Maurice Marciano and more. Karlie Kloss, Dasha Zhukova, Lisa Eisner, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Billy Idol, China Chow, Bill and Maria Bell, Brian Grazer, Lubov Azria, Jimmy Iovine and Liberty Ross, David Furnish and David Gersh were also in the crowd.
And it was indeed a crowd. The narrow doorway to the gallery is always packed, but the Hirst show in particular drew the most massive mob yet, with a line stretching over a block long that put the fire marshal into overdrive. Call it the Kanye effect, perhaps? In the past, music superstars such as Elton John and Madonna have attracted even more people to the Gagosian openings. But the hype may have just been for Hirst, who has a huge following worldwide. While those expecting to see sharks in tanks would have been disappointed, his latest series returned to the immediacy of painting in studio.
Referencing both Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, “The Veil Paintings” layer brushstrokes and bright dabs of heavy impasto, enveloping the viewer in vast fields of color. Inspired partly by the Pointillist innovations of Georges Seurat and the post-Impressionist paintings of Pierre Bonnard, Hirst continues his examination of color and its effect on the eye. Judging by the flurry of Instagram posts containing the colorful dot artworks, most of which were sold, the show was a success.