Damien Hirst’s “The Currency” Project Under Scrutiny for Misleading Dates

Artist Damien Hirst is facing scrutiny over the production dates of more than 1,000 artworks in his “The Currency” series, which he claimed were made in 2016.

Sources familiar with the project, including individuals who worked on the pieces, told The Guardian that many of these paintings were actually produced in 2018 and 2019. This discrepancy has sparked a debate about the transparency and authenticity of Hirst’s ambitious project that blends traditional art with digital elements.

“The Currency” consists of 10,000 unique paintings, each featuring colorful dots hand-painted on A4 paper. Launched in 2021, buyers had the choice between a physical painting or a digital NFT version of the artwork. Hirst and his authorized seller, Heni, maintained that all the pieces were created in 2016.

However, sources, including some artists involved in the production, have revealed that a significant number of these works were mass-produced later, in 2018 and 2019. This process reportedly took place in a factory-like setting within Hirst’s studios, where artists worked long hours to meet the project’s demands.

“There were loads of sheets on these tables, and they were quite low so you had to constantly bend down to do the spots,” one artist told The Guardian. “After a while some people were getting repetitive strain injuries.”

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“It was very, very tedious,” another said.

Hirst’s legal team has not denied these claims but insists that dating the artworks to the conceptual year of the project, 2016, is standard practice in conceptual art. They argue this method aligns with Hirst’s “usual approach “usual practice” and was not intended to deceive buyers. This defense mirrors a previous situation where Hirst’s formaldehyde sculptures were dated to the 1990s despite being made in 2017. The lawyers contend that artists often use different dating methods, reflecting the conceptual timeline rather than the actual creation date.

The issue of production dates also casts a shadow on the project’s marketing strategy. When “The Currency” was sold, buyers could choose to keep a physical painting or an NFT, with unsold physical pieces being ceremonially burned. This dramatic event was designed to highlight the uniqueness and value of each piece, whether digital or physical. However, the revelation that many paintings were produced later than claimed undermines the narrative of exclusivity and authenticity that was central to the project’s appeal.

In 2021, Joe Hage, Hirst’s manager, revealed that the integration of NFTs into “The Currency” began in 2018, two years after the project was conceived. This aligns with the broader surge in NFT popularity and the increasing interest in digital art markets. The decision to produce 10,000 pieces, echoing successful NFT collections like CryptoPunks, appears to have been driven by market considerations rather than the original 2016 timeline.

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Hirst’s “The Currency” aimed to fuse physical and digital art, challenging traditional notions of art ownership and value. However, the recent revelations about the production timeline may lead collectors to question the reliability of the dates and narratives provided by artists and their teams.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.

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