Damien Hirst is not an artist, Damien Hirst makes antiques for super-rich people. The notion that people of limited artistic ability who learn a little about technique, and a little about Art History, at Art College, suddenly become gifted artists is absolute crap; and the art-world that perpetuated that notion has now had the rug pulled from under its feet by one of the people it inflated. Good! The recent hugely financially successful auction of Hirst's "art works" illustrates that Hirst is no artist, but is a gifted antique designer with a string of Russian Oligarchs and Saudi Sheiks willing to buy what he makes.
If artists were judged on the fortunes they make, Vincent Van Gough would have been piss-poor because he was piss-poor. The only person who ever bought one of Vincent's paintings was his brother Theo. Art is about so much more than money, and Damien Hirst is about so much less than art. If you want an antique, have him make one for you, or get one from Tarcey Emin. No, the world's greatest figurative artist is Lucien Freud, and one of the world's greatest "artists" is Robert Crumb. Now you can call him a "graphic artist" or a "comic artist" (not sure about that one), or put him into any other pigeon-hole you want, but whatever you want to call him, Crumb is one the world's greatest living artists.
Copyright Robert Crumb
The World's greatest living magazine or "gag"cartoonist, on the other hand, is Gahan Wilson. For decades Gahan Wilson has honed his craft and his cartoons, particularly his macabre Playboy cartoons, are works of art. Is this in any doubt in your mind? If there is then you should buy the new 3-volume collection of Gahan's Playboy cartoons to be published by Fantagraphics in time for Halloween 2009, and all such doubts will be dispelled. I am so looking forward to having this. I might have wangled a review copy if I wasn't such an obvious fanboy and it wasn't already guaranteed to be such a huge success.
I actually got a package of artwork back from Playboy yesterday, by FedEx (I had my nose pressed against the window, like a demented puppy-dog as the van swung into the driveway), thank you J - so the magazine was on my mind, and that coincided with the news that Fantagraphics and Playboy are to publish a large collection of Gahan's work, and suddenly the dreach Scottish weather - that kills us, apparently, broke and a little MS destroying sunshine flooded into my life.