Damien Hirst’s Unknown in Vegas
Curated by Tal Cooperman (who first set foot into the art world as part of an underground graffiti crew in his hometown in LA), the art collection at the newly renovated Palms Casino in Las Vegas pairs over 150 Modern Art masterpieces with contemporary work and electric street art. Aiming to move away from the traditional ‘white-wall’ gallery experience, massive murals by REVOK, James Jean and Felipe Pantone spill across perfectly polished surfaces - including the roof – and a 13-foot tiger shark lurks at the bar in the ‘Unknown’ - Damien Hirst’s first hospitality project since Pharmacy 2.
‘Frank and Lorenzo have been huge supporters and collected my work for over 15 years,’ Hirst says. ‘When they bought the Palms Casino they asked me if they could put The Unknown (Explored, Explained, Exploded), a shark sculpture they had bought, in the bar. I looked at the plans and loved what they were doing with it, so I made the Spots to go around the room as well.’
The eponymous artwork is borrowed from casino owners, the Fertitta brothers' private collection and it is the first time the segmented shark has appeared in public. Preserved in glass and steel formaldehyde filled vitrines the beautiful beast – who was originally caught by an Australian fisherman – spans the white marble bar, and reigns hegemonising amidst the surrounding ‘Stearic Acid’ Spot Paintings, and eight new works created specifically to compliment the installation.
With spots on the felts of nearby gaming tables and accompanying casino chips, and on sure-to-be collectable coasters, matchbooks and swizzle sticks to match, stepping into the Unknown is a bit like falling down the rabbit hole, and offers a rare, immersive insight into the artist’s mind and work that will leave you wanting more… and with an Andy Warhol Dollar Sign painting but a stones throw away in the high-limit lounge, and Basquiat’s Speaks for Itself triptych in the resort’s Scotch 80 Prime steak restaurant the new Palms Casino probably has it...welcome to the 'estate of the art'!