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Quote of Note | Calvin Tomkins

“A month before Damien Hirst‘s retrospective opened at Tate Modern in early April, hundreds of his spot paintings filled all eleven Gagosian galleries worldwide, including the two in London. [Larry] Gagosian gave a party for Hirst at the Arts Club on Dover Street, and invited an eclectic mix of artists, dealers, and big-money types, along with the sort of upper-class socialites who now want to be associated with contemporary art—people like David Cholmondely, the current Great Chamberlain, who walks backward before the Queen when she opens Parliament. [Tate Gallery director Nicholas] Serota was there, after a full day that included speaking at a memorial for Lucian Freud, who died last July. Serota excels at this sort of thing. He went off by himself, on the morning of the event, and wrote a brief, evocative, highly personal tribute that compared Freud to a ‘a bantam prize fighter in training—nippy, sinewy, always somehow poised for action.’ At the Arts Club that evening, I sat down with Serota at a table in the back room where Gagosian was entertaining Simon and Joyce Reuben, wealthy British collectors. Gagosian jokingly told Simon Reuben that Serota needed fifty million pounds to complete the Tate Modern’s expansion project, and that Reuben should sell his boat and give it to him. ‘You can have your name on an oil tank,’ he added. Serota said, ‘You’ll be known long after Larry is forgotten.’”

-Calvin Tomkins in “The Modern Man,” a profile of Tate Gallery director Nicholas Serota that appears in the July 2 issue of The New Yorker

Pictured: A Damien Hirst “Spot Clock,” yours for £305 at Tate Modern’s gift shop

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