One of today’s lectionary readings is Exodus 32:1-14, the Golden Calf. And by golly do I EVER I have some relevant art to share for this scripture! This piece is by artist Damien Hirst. It is a bull. An ACTUAL bull. Its hooves and horns are dipped in 18-carat gold, and it is wearing the crown of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. The bull is preserved in a giant vat of formaldehyde. The whole thing weighs 10 tons, and was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2008 for $18.6 million dollars. $18.6 MILLION DOLLARS. To a buyer that called in on the phone!
What gives this golden calf its value? Is there something intrinsic to the piece itself? Does its value lie in the meaning imbued into it by its creator? Or does that value derive from the power of the collective imagination, the attention the art world gave it upon its arrival?
If you feel like you missed out on buying this sculpture, all is not lost! You can still get a limited edition signed silkscreen and gold leaf version for $11,000 here https://www.artsy.net/artwork/damien-hirst-the-golden-calf