Will Damien Hirst's New Underwater-Themed Show Sink or Swim?


Damien Hirst's first major exhibition in over a decade, "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable," opens on Sunday in Venice. The show is housed in two palazzos owned by Christie's owner Francois Pinault. Hirst has undergirded the show's theme with an elaborate backstory involving an underwater recovery of treasures from a sunken ship that mixes classical Egyptian themes with anachronistic contemporary visual references including Kate Moss, Pharrell and Mickey Mouse. Anticipation regarding the show is augmented by intense speculation over how the market will respond to the new works. Oliver Barker of Sotheby's, who oversaw Hirst's 2008 auction house blow-out "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever" sale in 2008, likens the exhibition to Elvis Presley's historic "comeback" performances in Las Vegas.

Photograph by Christoph Gerigk