Damien Hirst’s explosive shark art becomes focal point in Las Vegas bar
The artist’s installation heads the across the pond for £544m venue
One of the world’s most iconic art installations ‘The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded)’ by British artist Damien Hirst, has headed across the pond to Las Vegas as it becomes the focal centrepiece of a new bar titled Unknown – a part of a £544m renovation at Palms Casino Resort helmed by owners and art collectors Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.
The work, which features a dissected shark divided into three parts and submerged into its own tank made of steel and glass filled with formaldehyde, made waves when it was bought into the public sphere back in 1999. While versions of it have been exhibited in museums around the world, this is the first time the original has been publicly exhibited. Fans of Hirst’s artwork, The Fertitta brothers, purchased the piece directly from the artist himself, in a bid to create a unique draw for guests to the social venue.
Situated beside the entrance marking a central meeting spot, the piece took over a whopping ten days to install and is housed within a bullet proof tank with special drainage system embedded into the floor for maximum protection against natural disasters such as earthquakes.
“A lot of museums can feel like they’re made for dead artists — not a very exciting place to hang art,” Hirst told the Los Angeles Times. “I’ve always liked how art can exist anywhere. You don’t always need white walls and a perfect white room to show contemporary art. What we’ve done here, with the Unknown Bar, the art really stands up and feels so alive.”
“I like the impact. When you walk in, you don’t expect it. This just shows you: Art can survive anywhere.”
Every element of the contemporary bar has been designed by Hirst, from the minimalistic marble décor to the red, yellow and blue pill inspired cocktail sticks, and as well as the eye-catching shark installation, nine of Hirst's spot paintings, a part of his ongoing Pharmaceutical Spot” series, are also housed in the bar – the first time they have ever been on public display.
But it’s not just the shark that’s being showcased, a total of 150 contemporary artworks by other prolific designers including Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami and Felipe Pantone also adorn the walls of the Unknown bar within the Palms Casino Resort as part of its makeover.