Damien Hirst and ‘nature morte’ (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 5)

Part 1

Find two examples of still life work which includes fish and in each case note the title, artist and date. Make a quick sketch of both pieces.

I decided to choose two pieces that were quite different. The first was a Picasso and the second by William Merritt Chase. It is no exaggeration to say that I have not tried to draw properly for decades. I tried to experiment a little in each sketch. In the first there are areas of colour and so I decided to use coloured pencils.

In the second,the artist’s emphasis was on realism so I used normal drawing pencils but instead tried using both hard and relatively soft ones.

Drawing 1 – Based on Picasso’s Still Life with Fish (1923)

P1 Ex 5 - picasso

Drawing 2 – Based on William Merritt Chase’s  Still Life with Fish (Date unknown)

P1 Ex 5 - w m chase
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Damien Hirst & Edwaert Collier (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 4)

Damien Hirst – The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living & Edwaert Collier – Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes’

Hirst - shark
Fig. 1 Hirst, D. “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991)
Still Life with a Volume of Wither's 'Emblemes' 1696 by Edward Collier active 1662-1708
Fig. 2 Collier, E. “Still Life with a Volume of Wither’s ‘Emblemes'” (1696)

PART 1 – Damien Hirst – The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living


  • Write down a few words giving your first reaction to the piece
  • Do you have an emotional response to it?
  • What do you think it’s about?
  • What do you think about the title?

My immediate response is a combination of cynicism and curiosity. I will return to the cynicism in Part 3, but my curiosity stems from both the shark and the title of the work.

Continue reading “Damien Hirst & Edwaert Collier (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 4)”

Notes from Art History: The Basics (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 3)


  • Look at an excerpt from Art History: The Basics

  • Make notes on parts that require further research or jump out at you as particularly meaningful
  • Look up any words new to you and list them



Art History: The Basics


Read and better understand these phases/periods of art history:

  • Classical Revival of 18th C
  • Bauhaus
  • Modernism


  • Institutional Theory of Art


Particularly interesting comments/observations/quotes from Art History: The Basics

David Hensel:

the art world itself seems to be engaged in a cultural performance about our times, a parody about duplicity, marketing tactics, and acquiescence.

Presenting this work in public and watching the reactions has produced many fascinating insights into how the arts work, about the need for understanding the broader picture of the dynamics of culture, and particularly the need to study the history of propaganda and patronage, the pursuit of invisible influence, in parallel to the study of the history of art.

(Letter from David Hensel, 1 December 2006)

What is art? (Project 1: Arts and Ideas – Exercise 2)

Record your thoughts on the questions below. Spend just 15 minutes or so on this activity

  • What is art?

  • How do we know it is art?

  • Who decides what is art?

  • Is it enough just to display a found object and say ‘this is art’ because it is in an art gallery?

  • Duchamp said he wanted “to put art back in the service of the mind”. What do you think he meant by this?

This response is in two parts. Part 1 is the 15 minute response. In the second part, I wanted to find a definition of art in three art history books I own.

Part 1

What is art?

Art is the output of human creativity. Given the huge breadth of that output, it does tend to be defined within various categories. These include Performing Arts, Creative Arts, Art and Design, Applied Arts, Fine Art and so on. I think a question follows from this very broad definition; does any creative output justify being described as art?

I think art has another meaning. It also describes the development of original and different ways in which that creative output is expressed. This second definition may then start to limit the amount of creative output above, which may be described as art. I wish to explain this with an example. Consider a painter who produces a work on canvas which is in the style, say, of Monet, and the subject matter is water lilies. That work might not be considered a work of art as it lacks originality.

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Duchamp’s Fountain and Dada (Project 1: Art and Ideas – Exercise 1)

In a few words write down your response to Duchamp’s Fountain

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968
Fig. 1. Duchamp, M “Fountain” (1917 – replica 1964)


My immediate response was to laugh. I think of Dada in general and Duchamp in particular as satirical, in the sense that they were challenging the art establishment of that time. There is, therefore, another interesting dimension to this work, namely has the urinal become a famous work of art? If so, does this represent a negation of the satirical element of the work?


Having been asked the question, and being somewhat ignorant of the Dada movement, I decided to undertake some superficial investigations.

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