Damien Hirst may not be pickling animals these days, but his latest stunt, The Currency, has caused equivalent relish and scorn. Having painstakingly created 10,000 dot paintings in 2016, Hirst is now combining three of the most annoying things in art – self-sabotage, NFTs and insane amounts of money – by offering every buyer an ultimatum: choose between the digital or physical version and the other will be burnt to a crisp. Because people just want to watch the world burn, more buyers are choosing to keep the NFT.
For some, this cremation has sparked inspiration; for others, it’s thousands of pieces of pointillism pointlessly heading to the incinerator. Regardless, Hirst isn’t the first to play with fire; so long as there’s been art, there’s been arson. It’s likely that since Homo erectus discovered the element and the Neanderthals got arty, valuable things have been claimed by flames.