NEW YORK—News broke this week that Damien Hirst killed 9,000 butterflies to create his latest piece of warped modern art at the Tate Modern in London.
Animal rights advocate PETA bashed the work saying: “Damien Hirst’s quest to be edgy is as boring as it is callous. It does not matter whether Hirst killed the animals himself or sat by while thousands of them were massacred for his own unjustifiable amusement. Butterflies are beautiful parts of nature and should be enjoyed in the wild instead of destroyed for something predictable and unimaginative.”
Yet, this line of criticism only scratches the surface. Animals are killed every day to be eaten in our food, worn as shoes, belts, and coats, and as common pests. Is that really the fundamental issue? Indeed, the Tate shot back that the butterflies lived longer than they would have in the wild.
The problem goes back to how warped modern aesthetics are. As I’ve discussed before, the problem began around 100 years ago, when the world began a major cultural decline, led by the emergence of the atheistic Communist Party. Communism essentially said, throw out your belief in anything spiritual and, along with it, throw out the morals and traditions that your belief fostered.
This had a devastating effect on the arts. At the end of the Romantic period, a warped, inhuman perspective emerged embodied by modern art, modern music, modern literature, and modern aesthetics in general.
The most fundamental problem with Hirst’s various butterfly works, both past and present, is that they do not belong in a museum, where paintings and sculptures should be admired. Looking at his more coherent works where butterflies are used as the medium, from the perspective of thousands of years of rich artistic history left to us, the works are essentially in the style of tile mosaics that should be embedded in the architecture of a building and should have some meaning derived from the building. Such a mosaic belongs as part of the architecture of a butterfly garden or a comparable building, probably best on the floor of an atrium. The design itself is not the problem.
There is absolutely no reason such a mosaic should have been created with real butterflies and shows a basic disrespect for its very intrinsic subject matter. Further it is more costly and difficult than using traditional materials. Viewed from this perspective, Hirst’s killing of butterflies to create his works is an absolute abomination.
That said, consider that Hirst makes hundreds of millions of dollars off of a warped genre of art that rakes in the most money in the art world today and is hung prominently in your local museum. I look forward to seeing Hirst getting a real job creating mosaics on the floor with normal materials, but I hope more for the world to end its financing of warped abominations posing as real art.
Evan Mantyk is president of the Society of Classical Poets (classicalpoets.org) as well as a longtime writer and editor for The Epoch Times.
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