Here is an article by Ben Lewis from Prospect Magazine which draws a comparison between trends in contemporary art and mannerist art of the past which were celebrated in their time but which are no longer as highly valued. Below is an excerpt:
There is a pattern typical of these end-phase periods, when an artistic movement ossifies. At such times there is exaggeration and multiplication instead of development. A once new armoury of artistic concepts, processes, techniques and themes becomes an archive of formulae, quotations or paraphrasings, ultimately assuming the mode of self-parody.
Over the last decade, not only conceptualism—perhaps the dominant movement of the past three decades—but the entire modernist project has been going through a similar process.
I believe that this decline shares four aesthetic and ideological characteristics with the end-phases of previous grand styles: formulae for the creation of art; a narcissistic, self-reinforcing cult that elevates art and the artist over actual subjects and ideas; the return of sentiment; and the alibi of cynicism.”
Image: Jeff Koons, Balloon Dog, Stainless steel with transparent color coating installed at The Palace of Versailles
Edit: I had written a short piece of text which I accidentally deleted. I think it is a terrible work of art for a number of reasons: It is tacky and ostentantious. It looks like it was commisioned by Posh and Becks. The plinth is ridiculous and at odds with the minimal look of the tank itself. The use of gold instead of his trademark white frame is equally jarring. It comes off as a forced attempt to merge a recognisably Hirst style which expensive materials in order to increase the value and desireability of the work.
The piece called “The Golden Calf” is the most expensive of the works that Damien Hirst is sending straight to auction. I believe he is doing this purely for the money despite the fact that he is already one of the richest artists ever. If he cares about the work then why not put them on exhibit before selling them. The works lack artistic integrity and resemble cheesy parodies of his earlier works – a unciorn in formaldihyde for example.
I believe he has lost any of the original integrity, sincerity or artistic merit that may have been present in his earlier works. Back in the ninties cutting a cow in half and suspending it in formaldehyde was a major challenge and took along time to achieve. He now has the resources to make a work art like this effortlessly – there is no challenge and Hirst has ceased to challenge himself. He has become a spent creative force or an absolute cynic but probably both.
“”I don’t agree with auction houses selling street art – it’s undemocratic, it glorifies greed and I never see any of the money.” – Banksy
He’s happy to make money selling his paintings to celebrities so how can he really take this position? His prices put his gallery out of the reach of the average person. He was happy to play the art market game and has done well out of it but now he’s on the losing end and doesn’t like it. The only thing that has really changed is that he doesn’t get the money.