Hirst’s donations made their fundraising debut at last week’s British Friends of the Art Museum of Israel dinner at Sotheby’s. One painting was sold at that event for 35,000 euros and over half of the 40 paintings have already been sold.
Hirst’s debt to Israel
The Director of the White Cube Gallery, which represents Hirst’s work, explained that Hirst is repaying a debt to the Israel Museum. Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, director Daniela Gareh said, "The museum’s curator of contemporary art, Suzanne Landau, first met him in Paris in 1991 and was seriously looking at his art work long before anyone else.
"Then in 1994, a year before he won the Turner Prize (the UK’s premier contemporary art award), the Israel Museum became the first museum in the world to buy his work."
The donated paintings are a series of diptychs, a folding pair of paintings, depicting coloured butterflies. The paintings are all part of a series which is titled ’Love Love’.
Damien Hirst has a reputation of being not only one of the most gifted artists but also one of the most controversial. He often portrays motifs of death, mortality and rebirth and has been known to show cut-open animals in formaldehyde, such as the cow and sheep which were part of an exhibition which won him the Turner Prize in 1995.
40th anniversary of the Israel Museum
Hirst’s donations are part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Israel Museum. Although Hirst is by far the biggest name donating to the museum, he is by no means the only artist.
More than 50 artists agreed to auction their work to raise money for the institution. Israeli artists Zadok Ben-David and Gideon Rubin donated art as well as attending the dinner.
Israel Museum Curator Marie Shek, said "Everyone wanted to participate, Jewish or non-Jewish. I have been working in this job for 30 years and never have I had such an enthusiastic response."
Reprinted by permission of European Jewish Press