5 Reasons to Applaud Damien Hirst

Udderly art.English artist Damien Hirst has weathered controversy, critics and the unenviable task of fitting the corpse of a 14-foot tiger shark into a vat of formaldehyde. And still, there are five additional reasons to applaud him.

1. A two-day auction at Sotheby?s auction house dubbed ?Beautiful Inside My Head Forever? cut out the middleman ? in this case art dealers ? and delivered a circus train of animals steeped in formaldehyde and other works directly to buyers for nearly $200 million. Lesson? Artists should be more aggressive about bringing their own art to market.

2. Despite inspiring incipient envy amongst his colleagues, Hirst again proved the value of becoming one?s own brand. ?Charles Thomson, founder of the The Stuckist art movement, which promotes art with a meaning, said Hirst was not art but a ?designer label.? ?Just using an object like a dead animal is capable of very little meaning,? he said. ?He is not selling art. It?s a form of madness.? (Javier Espinoza, Forbes.com)

3. Hirst?s success came during Wall Street?s financial meltdown, underscoring the durability, if not the blessed absurdity, of the art market ? a validating notion for those in the arts.

4. Hirst?s work substantiates Andy Warhol?s notion that art has become a consumer item. Good for cocktail chatter. No wonder works by the two artists were showcased together in February at the Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand. Hirst?s work, ?For the Love of God,? features 8,500 flawless diamonds encrusted into a platinum cast of a human skull, was paired, fittingly, with one of Warhol?s famed ?Dollar Sign? screens.

5. We have the same initials (this may not mean a lot to you, but when I start selling pickled creatures on eBay signed ?DH,? you?ll at least understand my inspiration).