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Listmania continues: Top 5 artworks from 2000-2010

November 25, 2009


1. For the Love of God, Damien Hirst (2007).

8,601 diamonds were used to encrust this skull (previously occupied between 1720-1810) and its curious name came from Hirst’s mother who asked ‘For the love of God, what are you going to do next?’ The most expensive piece of art ever, it cost 14 million to produce and the asking price is 50 million sterling. It’s odd because looks so frivolous (and it is) and makes us question the value of money. This came right before the recession, when the Celtic Tiger was still roaring. Looking at this makes us think about just how blasé we all were about spending money. How things have moved on since then.

2. HOPE, Shepard Fairey (2008).

Whether or not you are an Obamaniac, the HOPE poster can’t have failed to capture your attention during the 2008 US presidential campaign. It works because of its simplicity and striking design- you can recognize it from a window on the top floor of an apartment building, as a badge on the bag of someone cycling past you, crinkled up into a banner-the American colours of red, white and blue onto a photo of Obama with the contrast pushed up and ‘HOPE’ in large capitals beneath- the message is clearly sent through. Even staunch Republicans admitted that it was a pretty damn good feat of graphic design and will probably follow the Che Guevara poster down into design history, gracing posters on college walls and pencilcases in the decades to come.

3. 9/11, photographer unknown (2001)

On September 11, 2001, two planes were hijacked by Al-Quaeda and flown into the World Trade Centre. More planes were headed towards the Pentagon and the deaths of 2,974 people excluding the nineteen hijackers resulted. It’s hard to think back to that period when a world war seemed imminent and all the news stations and newspapers constantly pumped out more news looking for Bin Laden, the war in Afghanistan &c, without thinking of the images from that day. They have become enmeshed into the cultural memory and have made the most impact of any photography produced in the last ten years.

4. The Scream, Edvard Munch (1893)

Munch’s iconic painting made the news big time in 2004 when it was stolen from the Norwegian National Gallery. It was recovered in ’06 and the perpetrators ordered to pay the city of Oslo reparations of € 86.7 million. It’s probably the most well known art theft since the Mona Lisa was snatched from the Louvre in 1911.

5. Turner Prize, Grayson Perry (2003)

The Turner Prize has often been a topic of discussion around the watercooler, but none more so than the famed ’03 transvestite potter, Grayson Perry who also goes by his alter ego ‘Claire’. The hairy potter (see what I did there?) saved Britart from itself by casting a sense of fun upon the proceedings. His brightly coloured, dolls-house attire provide a curious contrast with the subject of his pottery (everything from child abuse to broken homes). It’s hard not to think of how they might be linked. Is he trying to make himself more vulnerable, asking for help? Is he using it as a way to free himself from his childhood? Who knows, perhaps not even Perry himself. He’s on this list for changing the way people think about art and how it reflects society. The Noughties has seen the rise of ‘social artists’, a generation of creators who use their work like journalists use the written word- to put a voice to what people are seeing and thinking in daily life.

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