It was a delicate undertaking, one that required rubberized protective jumpsuits, long tables of medical equipment and more than 224 gallons of formaldehyde. The goal: to replace the decaying tiger shark that floats in one of Mr. Hirst’s best-known works of Conceptual art, “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.”...Yes, exactly.
[A]s a result of inadequate preservation efforts, time was not kind to the original, which slowly decomposed until its form changed, its skin grew deeply wrinkled, and the solution in the tank turned murky....
Mr. Hirst acknowledges that once the shark is replaced, art historians will argue that the piece cannot be considered the same artwork.
“It’s a big dilemma,’’ he said. “Artists and conservators have different opinions about what’s important: the original artwork or the original intention. I come from a Conceptual art background, so I think it should be the intention. It’s the same piece. But the jury will be out for a long time to come.’’People have often asked me how I could go from art school to law school, art being so far removed from law, so very unlike it. But, no, it's not, is it? Original intention. What a wonderful phrase for finessing your interpretation! And may I suggest to Mr. Hirst the notion of a living artwork? Now, that could get you everything you ever want.