Damien Hirst Puts The Spin On NFTs – Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai New Joint Ownership

Damien Hirst with The Beautiful Paintings, Damien Hirst, 2023

Damien Hirst has released ‘The Beautiful Paintings’, a new series of his well-known ‘Spin” artworks that blurs the boundaries between digital and physical art creation using generative and machine learning algorithms.  Marking the newest iteration of Hirst’s iconic Spin Paintings series, known for their energetic splashes of colour, The Beautiful Paintings allows collectors to choose their combination of colours, styles, shapes, sizes, and mediums to generate unique artworks and titles. 

Collectors can generate the artwork either as physical artwork, digital artwork (NFT), or both. The physical artworks are printed on canvas and are available in two shapes and four sizes. Each artwork in the series is unique, and the physical artworks will be hand-signed with a paint pen on the front by Damien Hirst.  Although collectors can select several variables using The Beautiful Paintings dashboard, the final output always has an element of randomness, just as in past Spin Paintings

The dashboard features 25 different artwork styles to choose from. The wide variety of styles shows the unexpected movements, paint splatters, and colour interactions of his traditional Spin Paintings but also explores new directions that build on his previous body of work. Collectors can also choose from countless combinations of colours to create their palette. The expressive colour names were generated using machine learning, including names like Himalayan Waters, Interdimensional Cloud, and Tangerine Pine. 

The sizes of the circle canvas are 23, 40, 70, and 100 cm in diameter. The square canvas is also available in the following measures on each edge: 23, 40, 70 and 100 cm. The canvases cost $1,500, $3,000, $4,500 and $6,000, depending on the size, plus any applicable taxes. The NFT costs $2,000 plus any applicable taxes. 

The Beautiful Paintings NFTs are minted on the Ethereum blockchain and adhere to the ERC-721 standard. A selection of The Beautiful Paintings artworks is on display at the HENI Gallery, 1st Floor, 6-10 Lexington St, Soho, London. The Gallery is open daily from 10 am-6 pm until 10 April 2023.

The Beautiful Paintings are available for a limited time only from 31 March to 10 April 2023 at 23:59 PST from heni.com/spins.

Top Photo: Damien Hirst with The Beautiful Paintings, Damien Hirst, 2023 Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. Courtesy The Artist

Reynolds Portrait Of Omai

Joshua Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai (Omai) National Portrait Gallery and Getty Museum Joint Ownership Announced

The National Portrait Gallery and the Getty Museum have announced plans to jointly acquire and share ownership of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ masterpiece, Portrait of Mai (Omai), in a new model of international collaboration that will maximise public access to this vital work. The painting is currently under an export ban from the UK Government.

The announcement follows long-term discussion and planning by the partners, who intend to share the work for public exhibition, research, and conservation care. The London-based National Portrait Gallery and the Los Angeles-based Getty Museum intend to enter a joint ownership agreement, and in both locations, the public will be able to view the work free of charge.

“We are delighted to announce an innovative and exciting strategic partnership with Getty to hopefully become co-owners of Sir Joshua Reynolds’ majestic Portrait of Mai and a joint endeavour to advance scholarship and understanding of the fascinating and complex themes the work embodies. The portrait is unique in British and world culture and has never been in a museum collection: now it has the potential to be in two, one facing the Pacific from where Mai came, and the other only yards from Reynolds’ studio, where it was painted. For the Gallery, this outstanding portrait must be for the UK public, and we will share it with other institutions nationwide. This painting should belong to all of us; we know it will mean a great deal to our combined audiences, locally, nationally and globally. We want to thank the owner of Portrait of Mai for working with us so collaboratively and all those who have donated so far for making this painting within our reach.”

“I am delighted that, thanks to the export bar process, the National Portrait Gallery and Getty are closing in on finalising a deal so this exceptional painting will be able to be viewed by members of the public from across the UK, and across the globe. Both institutions have worked tirelessly to make this joint acquisition possible, and I would like to thank them for their stellar efforts and all those who have generously made donations, particularly Art Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund.”

“Getty, which strives to identify new models for thinking about and sharing cultural heritage, is delighted by this opportunity to participate in
an innovative approach to ownership – one that maximises accessibility and viewability while placing Portrait of Mai in a rich and multi-faceted transatlantic context.”

“Reynolds’ Portrait of Mai is both an icon of British portraiture and a uniquely noble representation of a person of colour from the Pacific islands—a region that Britain and other European nations were in Mai’s day colonising. Reynolds depicts his subject in a pose at once beneficent and commanding, modelled loosely on some famous ancient Roman sculptures. The complex artistic and historical issues that this painting raises will form the basis for a joint research initiative on 18th-century British portraiture involving exhibitions, conferences, and technical investigations. In addition, we hope this acquisition and the collaborations that flow from it will inspire other innovative models of
collecting, sharing, and protecting artistic heritage across nations, cultures, and peoples.”

Nearly eight feet high, Reynolds’ spectacular image of Mai holds a pivotal place in global art history, depicting the first Polynesian to visit Britain, and is widely regarded as the finest portrait by one of Britain’s greatest artists.

Known as “Omai” in England, Mai (ca. 1753-1780) was a native of Raiatea, an island now part of French Polynesia, who travelled from Tahiti to England with Captain James Cook. He spent the years 1774-76 in London, where he was received by royalty and the intellectual elite, and indeed became something of a celebrity. Mai returned to his homeland in 1777 and died there two years later.

Suppose the National Portrait Gallery is successful in the final phase of its fundraising campaign. In that case, the painting will first be exhibited at the Gallery, which will reopen, following its recent transformation, in June 2023. Mai will travel periodically between the two countries, sharing time equally between them, including being displayed in the Getty Museums when Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympic Games.

This collaboration follows previous joint initiatives of the NPG and Getty, including the publication of the National Portrait Gallery’s Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue, which began in 2003, and a current project on the Gallery’s Lucian Freud Archive, both funded by the Getty Foundation.
Each partner will contribute half of the £50m funds needed to acquire the painting. The NPG has raised most of the funding, including a significant £10m pledge by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, an Art Fund grant of £2.5m, the largest in its history, and many donations from charitable trusts, foundations, and individuals. This leaves just under £1m remaining, and the National Portrait Gallery continues fundraising.

Reynolds painted Mai at the height of his creative powers, exhibiting the portrait at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1776. He portrayed his imposing subject barefoot before a tropical landscape, dressed in flowing robes, including a traditional tapa (bark-cloth) sash and a headdress (Mai is known to have dressed in British clothes while in London). The Apollo Belvedere probably inspired his pose and hand gestures. One of the most admired antique sculptures, celebrated by Winckelmann in 1755 as the classical epitome of “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur.” While Mai’s face affects a distant, heroic gaze and bears the hallmarks of idealisation, there is an unmistakable individuality in his robust facial features and tattooed hands.

Reynolds, who painted Mai’s portrait for personal reasons, kept the picture in his London studio until he died in 1792. It was later acquired by Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, who installed it in his country estate, Castle Howard, in Yorkshire, England. The painting remained there until 2001 when it was acquired at auction by a private collector, who has now offered it for sale.

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