I like this litmus test that Damien Hirst suggests:
If I put a painting outside a bar at closing time, and it’s still there in the morning, it’s a crap painting.
He also suggests the market for art is bigger than you think, even at his prices:
I remember flying into L.A. at a time when my paintings were 20,000 to 50,000 pounds and looking at the swimming pools here and thinking everyone who has a pool can afford one of these. The market is so much bigger than anyone realizes.
I hadn’t thought about it that way. Also, on the idea of masterpieces vs. ubiquity:
You also have to ask yourself as an artist, “What would be more appealing … to have made the Mona Lisa painting itself or have made the merchandising possibilities — putting a postcard on everyone’s walls all over the world?” Both are brilliant, but in a way I would probably prefer the postcards — just to get my art out there.
“The idea that there is some special magic attached to Hirst’s work that shoves it into the multi-million-pound realm is ludicrous,” [Hughes] wrote. But there is a special magic attached to Hirst’s work. That magic is the spectacularly successful brand known as Damien Hirst. And for those to whom the brand is successfully markted—hedge fund types, tycoons of all sorts, generally anyone who happens to be cash-rich but taste-poor—it makes his products worth every cent. […] Some people think a Lamborghini is vulgar, and lots of people can afford yachts. But put a Damien Hirst dot painting on your wall and the reaction is, “Wow, isn’t that a Hirst?” The point is, Hirst is not selling art, he’s selling a cure for rich people with severe status anxiety. Judging Hirst’s work by the criteria of technical skill, artistic vision, and emotional resonance is like complaining that the Nike swoosh is just a check mark.