For Damien Hirst 2012 looked so promising. This was to be his big year, its centrepiece a retrospective at Tate Modern to coincide with the Olympics. The art critics seemed disposed to be kind, as he kicked off his victory year with a worldwide exhibition at Larry Gagosian’s global chain of galleries that brimmed with all the spot paintings he has ever got people to paint for him. Then came the Tate show, drawing record crowds to wonder at his early works. They admired a rotting cow’s head, its blood oozing out on the wooden gallery floor, while in a nearby vitrine a pickled tiger shark grinned melancholically.
And then he blew it.
While at the Tate parents were showing their children butterflies trapped in paint, Hirst opened an exhibition of his very newest creations at the White Cube gallery in Bermondsey, London. Hirst, it turns