Earlier in 2020, before the coronavirus became the phenomenon that would most clearly define this year, reports emerged that mega-famous contemporary artist Damien Hirst was working on constructing a chapel at the Chateau La Coste in Provence, France, which would feature “a huge bronze arm pointing to God.” Only a few short months later, it appears that Hirst, who is apparently the world’s richest artist, has completed a new project: on Monday, Snapchat announced the release of a new augmented reality experience on the app that was made in collaboration with Hirst, and which includes the user’s ability to make vividly-hued in-app “paintings” inspired by the artist’s own “spin” paintings.
The collaboration came together in support of the organization Partners in Health, which is working to provide healthcare for especially vulnerable people around the world in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s amazing to be working with Snapchat on this totally mega spin art lens and making it possible for millions of people to make their own spin paintings right from their phones,” Hirst said in a statement. “I’m so happy that this partnership also supports Partners in Health, a brilliant and forward-thinking organization that helps communities in developing countries around the world cope with the devastating impact of COVID-19.”
Hirst’s spin paintings have been cornerstones of his artistic output since the mid-1990s, when he was living and working in Berlin. In fact, one of the first Berlin gallery exhibitions where Hirst displayed this work in 1994 also included stations for attendees to make their own versions of the spin paintings. Hirst’s democratic perspective on art-making has clearly continued to permeate his work up until 2020, as evidenced by the new Snapchat project and his attitude towards coronavirus relief. If you use this new Snapchat feature, you can also upload it to a collective Snapchat gallery where everyone’s versions will be visible: just add your artwork to “Our Story” in the app.