Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: It's time to collect!

The final resting place - with fellow Spot Challenger Kenneth Spriggs' "Spot Homage" reflected in the mirror

TEN MONTHS after 128 Spot Challengers (see Am I Dotty?) took off on a mad scavenger-hunt to eyeball Damien Hirst's spot paintings in 8 countries, it's time to collect from our local Gagosian. And now, a year later, one has even come up for auction at the venerable Phillips auction house (update 2/27/13: it sold for GBP 15,000 or around $22,750 USD). It remains to be seen if the owner's larger-than-life story behind the print may help or hinder its sale - there is no mention of it in the auction listing, and since Phillips are experts in the game, so we can only assume they decided not to "overshare." 

SOLD! The first Spot Challenge to go on the block went for GBP15,000 in London on Feb 27, 2013. This is a snapshot of a tweet by the auction house, Phillips.

The view of my print from below ...

The unfurling of an 8-country, 11-gallery, ten month wait at City Frame, NYC
Shot at City Frame, voted best picture framer by New York Magazine and the choice of Spot Challengers Will Leung and arrestedmotion.

My edition number is 69/128 - pencilled just above my name

Dwarfed by the giant tube and the giant, double-doored entrance to Gagosian Gallery on 24th St. 

There's been a fair bit of discussion on our Spot Chaser Facebook Group about whether to jettison or jive with the giant cardboard tube, which is capacious enough to be a second bedroom in a standard Manhattan studio. "Keep the toob!" say the hardcore collectors. "Just keep the label," said the framers. Space-wise, I haven't got much of a choice: I'm leaving the $25 tube to a lucky tubester diver.

Picking up my Spot Challenge print from Gagosian Gallery with artist Pamela Talese - who included a homage to Hirst in her recent show, Sugar and Fat

Spot Challenger arrestedmotion reveals the prize - lotsa dots and some cute doodling at the bottom. 
Photo courtesy of Will Leung. 

First Spot Challenger to post a shot was Rob Sawyer in the UK. Next was arrestedmotion - the above shot a 'fresh-out-of-the-tube' look at his print: a massive 59"x 53" screen print, complete with dedication and doodles. I confess I was hoping for one with larger spots, like the big painting at the bottom of my original post here. But hey, who's circumferencing? Apparently there are 420 spots, each one different. Blogger TwoCoatsofPaint suggests the the number 420 is a euphemism for getting high

On our chatty little Spot Chasers Facebook group, owner of Galerie Mia Joosten (AmsterdamDirk Den Hartog reported the good oil from the actual printers of the print: 

This is what Chloë Faine, Director of Administration, Coriander Studio (printer of our prints) said about our prints: The print does indeed have 420 individually mixed and hand screen-printed colours on it. Each spot is unique. We don't know but we suspect this is the largest number of colours to have been printed on a silk-screen print. it is certainly the largest number we have ever done. The special nature of the print was, I believe, designed to acknowledge the scale of the 'spot challenge' undertaken by those who won one. You can read about the silkscreening technique here. 

My Spot Challenge card - it traveled to 8 countries (9 if you count Australia at the end)
We're off to see Gagosian ... with artist Jenny Krasner who just returned from a 6 months residency and show in Shanghai. Read my post about Jenny's collaboration with writer Heather Sellers.

So here's my pickup story: I set off To Gagosian with artist friend Jenny Krasner, fresh from Shanghai where she'd spent a 6 month's artist's residency culminating in a solo show. Jenny's mother, co-owner of the once-was Oscar Krasner Gallery apparently has some advice for artists and gallerists wanting to make it big, literally: If the art's not good, just make it big - or paint it back. 

A day earlier, the New York Times published a piece about Damien Hirst splitting with Gagosian. So I was collecting my print just in the nick of time. And behold, here was Taglialatella Gallery NYC prominently displaying a Damien Hirst circular Spot Print in its front window, as if to beckon the world's richest living contemporary artist to its fold. 
It's mine! A print taller than me.
Taking ownership.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by the Gagosian Gallerinas behind the desk - who, unlike the reports of cooler receptions in other galleries, were full of congratulations and grace.

Celebrating at Park Restaurant (best yogurt fruit granola in Chelsea) with fellowess Spot Challenger Chase Ghatan - and wearing my Spot Challenger uniform and hat.

Three Artists and two Spot Challengers: Pamela Talese, Peter White (Spot Challenger), Me and Jenny Krasner brunch at the cavernous Park Restaurant NYC, a former parking garage.

We then proceeded to Park Restaurant to brunch, joined by fellow Spot Challengers Peter White and Chase Ghatan. (Note to foodies: Park has the best yogurt fruit granola. For other best cheap'n'choosy options in Chelsea, check my personally curated list, Where to Eat Between the Canvases in Chelsea
It's not a bazooka, honest: beau carries it home.

So what about this dedication? 
I requested "Spot on, Galfromdownunder!" and later thought "I bet your friends are laughing now" would have been cheekier. However, the latest reports as Challengers pick up and prise open their prints, are that Hirst (or his assistants - or maybe even his kids) has merely written "To [name]" then doodled a shark, a butterfly and a skull. That's basically a mini-catalog of Hirst's oeuvre, the consummate marketer he is. Whether he decided that some dedications were too lame and that people might attribute a lack of creativity to him is anyone's guess. I was hoping he'd at least write "Galfromdownunder" rather than my real name. Nope, he didn't. 
Celebrating at Company Restaurant: Earlier in the week I met Spot Challenger Kenneth Spriggs from Colorado who flew to NYC and FedEx'd his print home. We're sporting "I SPOT DH" badges from Hirst woodblock printers Manifold Editions booth at the Affordable Art Fair.

Some Spot Challengers are meeting up in different cities to celebrate. Through the Spot Chasers Facebook page (set up by Hospitality Club founder Viet Kuehne) I met Colorado challenger Kenneth Spriggs who came, saw, and FedEx'd his print back home. We lunched at the very cool Company pizzeria in Chelsea, and from mathematical genius Ken I learned about big data and statistician/artist Edward Tufte, whose gallery I wander past every day but have never thought to investigate. This is why I rarely say no to any invitation to do whatever - you never know what you might learn. (In fact, I'll insert one of my guiding principles in life here: if you want to change your life, you don't need to go do anything life-threatening or expensive. Just say yes more often than no).

Ken did more than merely travel the 8 countries like the rest of us, chasing spots. The man has just devoted a bunch of time and housepaint to reproducing Hirst's Spot paintings as a kind of experimental homage. Check out A Novice Makes a Spot Painting, and dang it if he hasn't just scored an exhibition at his local pizzeria! His next coup? Hitting up art critic Jerry Salz of Make Me a Faux Richter fame. 

But back to the cavernously uncozy lobby of Gago: 

"Apparently there were 50 spot print tubes at the gallery," said Ken, which leads me to wonder if there are 50 Spot Challengers in NYC and why they haven't joined our Facebook group to confab ... 
Some framing estimates range from $700+ to over $2000 (depending on how much rent the framer has to pay, perhaps). Perhaps I can start a framing fad of a clear tube which stands in a corner with the print facing out - certainly a lot more space-friendly to New Yorkers living in tiny spaces. I have chosen to have mine framed at City Frames along with four other Spot Challengers: 1" wood frame, plexiglass, floated. Price? $877. Spot on.  Since I spent a total of $2500 plus a few airmiles to do the entire trip, the overall expense of the entire junket was not bad at all. 

Now, I hope the wall I've hung it on is load bearing. Any chance of reviving the art of ceiling frescos, anyone?

More reading: 
The Spot Chaser's group on Facebook - thanks to Viet for setting it up! 
Minimalism to Go: 8 countries and one small bag how I did the whole trip with little more than this one little bag

The Banksy Forum > Damient Hirst Dot Prints - some Spot Challenger confabbing on this thread of the established UK art forum
Manifold Editions make Hirst prints you can buy for the cost of a second hand car
Pamela Talese, Artist
Peter White, Artist
Jenny Krasner, Artist
ArtCards Great site for cruising the Galleries of NYC

Can you believe it?  I did the entire 8-country trip with little more than my Traffic Cone Bag. Read about it: Minimalism to Go: 8 countries and one small bag


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