Here, exclusively for Bowie/ Collector, Damien Hirst recalls the experience:
I love making spin paintings with kids, I've got a spin machine that I take to my kids’ school and get all the kids doing them, the joy of making them is what somehow makes them great art and all those crazy moments throwing paint around and mostly not knowing what you're doing is distilled in the final result and that’s why they’re so amazing; they immortalise a feeling or a collection of feelings, a fleeting, colourful happiness, they are like tracks in time, like footprints in the snow.
David was like a child, childish and childlike when he came to see me in the studio and we made a giant spin painting together, you have to live in the moment and give up all your preconceptions and let yourself go and just have fun and let the universe do its thing, he was brilliant fun to spin with. I remember telling him to come to the studio in old clothes but he turned up in brand new expensive clothes, he said he didn't have any old clothes but didn't mind getting paint on the new shit he was wearing, I loved that! He took his watch off at one point and stuck it on the painting but we spun it some more and it threw it across the studio and smashed it, he never even picked it up. Around the time we made the painting, we were hanging out a lot and having these long conversations about what it meant to be an artist. What does an artwork say about an artist’s personality? Is the person of the artist always present in a piece of art? It’s something I’ve thought of quite often with the spins because they’re an interesting meditation on the role of the artist – the results manage to say not a lot about the person who has spun them, because they're governed by the forces of chance and movement, and in the end it's harder to make a bad one than a good one and they all look similar in some way whoever makes them. David called them ‘art without the angst’. I told him they were like punk art to me and he thought about it for a little while and told me a story where he said he was once going to a punk gig with his son in New York and his son came down wearing punk clothes and David said to him: ‘Do I have to go out with you dressed like that?’ Amazing that even David Bowie could react like that when confronted with the new.
David once told me my flat looked like John Lennon’s first flat in New York and I was like: ‘Fuck you're David Bowie and you hung out with John Lennon why are you hanging out with me?’ But he understood art and loved it and understood the tension and the colour and playfulness in the spin paintings, and I guess that’s why he was moved to come and find me. I remember him coming to the opening of my Gagosian show in New York in 96 and getting really excited about the giant rotating spins and the levitating beach balls, all the colour and the exuberance. He always said he found my work emotive and expressionistic and he once described it as ‘a reverberation of sorts’. In that way, the spins feel so fitting and constantly alive for David. I feel so lucky to have shared the small experience with him.
- Damien Hirst, July 2016
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