Hirst’s skull rears its head in Florence
Palazzo Vecchio exhibits diamond work
By Gareth Harris and Cristina Ruiz. News, Issue 219, December 2010
Published online: 25 November 2010
FLORENCE. Damien Hirst’s diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God, 2007, is to go on display in Italy for five months. As we went to press the work was set to be unveiled at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence where it will remain on view until 1 May 2011.
All exhibition costs including insurance, security, transportation and installation fees are being met by Arthemisia Group, a commercial company that organises shows in Italy. Neither Hirst nor his London gallery White Cube will receive a fee according to Arthemisia.
A ticket to see the skull, which also includes entry to the study of Francesco I de’ Medici and the palace museum, costs €10. A spokesman for Arthemisia said the group was hoping for around 230,000 visitors. The skull’s display has been organised by international curator Francesco Bonami. It is the first contemporary art show funded by Arthemisia. “They have focused mainly on old master exhibitions,” says Bonami, who added that they were “excited” to be launching a programme of contemporary art shows with Hirst’s skull. “I am sure there will be huge interest,” in the work, said Bonami. “Curiosity levels [in Italy] are extremely high.”
For the Love of God, which is covered in 8,601 diamonds, was first shown at White Cube in June 2007 with a £50m price tag. Two months later, Hirst’s then business manager Frank Dunphy told us the skull would be sold to “a group composed of a number of interested individuals”, who turned out to be Hirst himself, Frank Dunphy, and Jay Jopling of White Cube. The Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk later told reporters that he had also invested in the skull.
Following its unveiling in London the work has been seen only once—at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in late 2008. A proposed tour with stops at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the British Museum in London, and venues in the Far East was cancelled because costs were too high. In 2009 Hirst told Time Out magazine that he had decided “to try and get a space in London [to] put [the skull] on permanent display” because “it just needs to be seen”. This space might have been a former munitions store in Kensington Gardens, which Hirst proposed turning into a gallery. However, the Serpentine gallery will now run the building.
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