Exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in the context of the sublime, Damien Hirst‘s masterpiece “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991) is almost comedically placed alongside other “shark artworks” by Winslow Homer (“The Gulf Stream,” 1899) and a copy of John Singleton Copley’s “Watson and the Shark” (c.1778). Also included is a chillingly toothy Francis Bacon (“Head I,” 1947-49)–maybe to prove that it’s not just a shark show.
I don’t know if the Met is trying too hard but the room comes across as trite. The Met rarely does contemporary art very well–by which I mean inserting contemporary work into an illuminating context–and unfortunately this haphazardly arranged show only highlights that fact.
I think it would’ve made more sense to place the suspended shark with other work from the last two decades but for some reason it didn’t happen…maybe the museum was trying to woe the collectors who lent their work for display and thought a mini-show would do it…who knows, maybe the collectors were impressed–there’s no accounting for taste I guess.
Though placing the sculpture beside a large window overlooking Central Park was a smart decision by the curators. The proximity to nature highlights the work’s otherworldly aura.