Hirst's Haven

The French Principality of Monaco is world renowned as the tax haven of choice for the super rich, so it comes as no surprise that multi million pound art creator, Damien Hirst should exhibit in such a place. Looking at where he will be exhibiting begs the question, is this the most magnificent location for an art institution in the world? Le Musée Océonographique de Monaco sits 279 feet above the cliffs of Monte Carlo's coastline looking out towards the French Riviera and celebrates its centenary this year. But however much I could go into the art vs. gallery architecture debate (it brings out the insecurities of many artists in my opinion) there is a far more interesting tangent to follow and an appropriate matter for both subjects in question: money. Reports emerged towards the end of last year about Hirst's intentions for a major show in the principality - lest we forget his self-invitation upon The Wallace Collection - and on the surface, the museum's collection of sea species and ocean science marries well with the artist's pickled sharks as well as the other sixty works on display. But timing and location opens up an interesting enquiry in a year that will see Great Britain face a general election next month and the looming tax hikes, planned to be at 50 per cent, that are destined to hit British high earners. We've seen migration from pockets of the City of London to Switzerland, but this is the first physical art-related move as a result of Labour's threatening tax grip. Hirst has challenged the art markets before and I have no doubt he will do so again as Europe and the rest of the world surpasses recession-heavy Britain, but this move is a signifier that will ripple through all levels of arts in a broken Britain if change does not happen. Is the title of the exhibition a message to Gordon Brown; a symbol that abundance and prosperity can and will be found elsewhere?
CORNUCOPIA opens today and runs until September 2010 - click here for more information.