The bad boy of international art is ruffling feathers again. For the launch issue of Italian art magazine Garage, British artist Damien Hirst, 46, has created a butterfly tattoo on a woman’s crotch. On the cover, a sticker image of the butterfly is strategically placed to cover a smaller version of the same design, tattooed onto 23-year-old model Shauna Taylor’s crotch. Many of his fans world over are outraged. “We were in full-on cringe mode when we saw the first cover of Garage,” wrote blogger Styleite. “Hirst’s tattoo is arguably the most provocative,” wrote n-hub.com. To avoid hurting sensibilities, British book retailers WH Smith have banned the magazine.
The magazine has two alternative covers — one which features work by Nick Knight and Dinos Chapman and the other a tattoo design created by Richard Prince.
Indian artists and book sellers, however, welcome Hirst’s version.
“It’s a beautiful cover and art is art. I think it will be a hot seller in Delhi,” says a spokesperson at Khan Market’s Bahri Sons Bookstore. “The body is used for decorative art by many. Thumbs up to the cover,” says artist Siddhartha Tawadey. “We respect the freedom of expression and don’t mind it at all,” says Nandita Tiwari of Full Circle Bookstores.