Judge and Jury: Hirst criticisms puts the Royal Academy firmly in the picture - Damien Hirst’s criticisms of the Royal Academy, will only make more people aware of it and bring in more visitors, says Graham Goodkind, managing director of Life PR

The media have had a field day over Damien Hirst’s attack on the Royal Academy. He has refused to join the RA, describing it as the ’big, fat, stuffy, old, pompous institution’, and the last thing he would want to do. The story even appeared on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

The media have had a field day over Damien Hirst’s attack on the

Royal Academy. He has refused to join the RA, describing it as the ’big,

fat, stuffy, old, pompous institution’, and the last thing he would want

to do. The story even appeared on the front page of the Daily

Telegraph.



Very good timing for Hirst who launched his first book this week at the

premium price of pounds 59.99. But what does it mean for the RA, its

reputation and the new exhibition, Sensation, opening on 18 September?

Is it a public relations disaster?



The Royal Academy is looking to modernise its image and probably appeal

to a wider audience (does this sound like New Labour?). On the surface,

having Damien Hirst ridicule it, the move forward seems to have taken a

few steps back. However, his comments come as no surprise; he is

renowned for being controversial and he is a good self-publicist (which

is precisely why his more sensational works of art take centre stage).

And after all, which modern artist or movement has ever wanted to join

the ’establishment’?



He has merely delivered the expected.



As for the Royal Academy, the media coverage has highlighted the fact

that the body is making determined efforts to update itself and tap into

avant garde thinking - by persisting to ask not one, but two modern

artists to join (Rachel Whiteread earlier this year). Albeit

naively.



Furthermore, the exhibition itself has received more column inches via

Damien Hirst’s comments than it otherwise may have received. It is

described as the biggest exhibition of contemporary British art, which

positions the RA exactly where it wants to be - at the cutting edge of

art. And the emphasis is placed on Hirst’s more ’sensational’ works on

display, such as the preserved shark, a cow sliced into 12 sections, a

bifurcated pig and a sheep in a display case.



All in all, Damien Hirst’s attack and subsequent controversy has created

a ’must see’ factor for the exhibition and therefore a very successful

way to pull in the crowds - which is precisely what the RA’s PR and

business objective is.



Not to forget, excellent PR for Hirst’s book which will undoubtedly see

an increase in sales as a result of the media interest! So, in fact, a

happy PR ending - a win-win situation for all.



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