Robert Hughes was a name on books. An author involved in a well-publicized car accident in Western Australia. Beyond that I knew little about him.
Until recently when he died and ABC TV (Australia) broadcast an old documentary as a tribute.
The Mona Lisa Curse was Hughes’ exploration (or exposé?) of the effects of money on art. How a loan of the Mona Lisa to galleries in the USA led to a new attitude: artwork as celebrity and later as an investment commodity.
Hughes had very little regard for some of the most revered artists of modern times and commented scathingly upon them and their work. Two of his most esteemed targets were Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. I confess I experienced a degree of smug delight upon hearing what he had to say about those two. I’ve had no respect for their “artistic” talents since learning of the way they had on occasion used other painters to do their paintings for them.
I am now looking out for a copy of Hughes’ book Shock of the New. I’m sure I recently saw it in a second hand book shop but didn’t realize it would be something that would interest me. If only I could remember which shop it was in…
See Hughes’ 2008 article in The Guardian for some of his views on Hirst.
The Mona Lisa Curse may be accessible via youtube.