Cristina Ruiz: Challenge accepted: our editor-at-large goes on a Hirst-spotting tour

For the Chinese, 2012 is the year of the dragon but it is also, indisputably, the year of Damien Hirst.

We're ready to get our card stamped

He is Britain’s unofficial Olympic artist, having secured London’s most prestigious venue for contemporary art, Tate Modern, for an astounding five months starting in April (Gerhard Richter got just three). From tomorrow, all 11 Gagosian galleries around the world will be simultaneously showing Hirst’s spot paintings for five weeks.

Hirst has promised a limited edition, personalised spot print to anyone who visits all 11 venues in London, Paris, Geneva, Rome, Athens, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The question is: why would anyone need to? Aren’t the spot paintings basically all the same? Is the challenge itself an interactive conceptual work of art?

To answer these and other important questions, which may reveal themselves in due course, I have decided to accept the challenge and embark on the tour.

To register for this Herculean task I fill in the appropriate details on the Gagosian Gallery website and am asked to sign a waiver forfeiting “any right to bring or join in any class action regarding the Spot Challenge”. What could go so wrong on this trip, dear reader, that would inspire me to sue Damien Hirst? Perhaps the dangers are greater than I imagined.

The same document also tells us that: “the content and size of the Spot Print” which will be mine if I complete the task “will be determined solely by Damien Hirst”. Hopefully it will be bigger than a postcard.

Felix Salmon, a blogger for Reuters, estimates the cost of the trip—if you go first-class all the way and stay in luxury hotels—at just over $108,000. I aim to do it for $106,000 less, travelling as cheaply as possible from place to place and staying with friends wherever possible.

The challenge starts tomorrow in London.

Published Wed, 11 Jan 2012 19:09:00 GMT

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.


17 Jan 12
18:46 CET


I too have taken the challenge! I just returned from NYC and will be off to Hong Kong on Thursday. It definitely will be the adventure of a lifetime...

12 Jan 12
22:21 CET


What a fantastic adventure. And one with a potentially wonderful matter what the size. Good luck and safe travels.

12 Jan 12
21:29 CET


I cant wait what kind of experience the editor is going to have. I will definitely follow her blog.

All blogs


Cristina Ruiz

Over the next six weeks, Cristina Ruiz, our editor-at-large, has taken up the challenge to try to visit all 11 Gagosian galleries showing Damien Hirst’s spot paintings. Follow her as she blogs about her travels here.