Finally, a project by Damien Hirst that warrants applause. (More about that in a moment).

The Telegraph, a national British daily, ran a story in 2012 under the headline, “In Ten Years We'll All Agree That Damien Hirst Is a Joke.”

Time is up. Can we all agree now? Or will the art world continue to regard Hirst’s work (done by others; he farms it out) as serious?

I’m remembering the 1990s when England’s Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley called Hirst “a pioneer of the British art movement.” Do you remember what Hirst was pioneering at the time?

You call this art?

He bisected cows and suspended their halves on a mechanized track that inched back and forth so the animals looked like they were constantly getting sliced.

In one of these displays, Hirst halved a cow and her calf and called it “Mother and Child Divided,” as if to make sure you knew how unserious he was.

And when Hirst wasn’t butchering cows, he was floating tiger sharks in Formaldehyde and puffing the presentation up with the self-important title of “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.”

Charles Saatchi, the British gallery where the dead animals showed, crowned him a “genius.” American art experts chimed in. Adam Gopnik, writing for The New Yorker, put Hirst on his list of “The 10 Most Important Artists of Today.”

Hirst is like Trump.

He keeps getting away with crap, and he cheats. (I’ll get back to that).

Coming to mind is a human skull that he encrusted with a reported 8,600 diamonds. The skull – said to be that of a monk – is titled “For the Love of God.” Another joke.

Another of his efforts (again, it’s not his effort; he delegates all artmaking) consisted of 10,000 paintings of polka dots, each dot the same size.


Seeing spots

His website claims that these polka dot paintings, better known as “Spot Paintings,” are "his most important series."

Serious artists have signature ways of working so marked that you know their identity instantly by the look of what they do. Images of native Tahitian women are typically Gauguin’s. Melted watches are vintage Dali.

But Hirst is like a novice trying all styles with none of his own; except he’s not a novice. At age 57, his development is past due. Clearly, evolving isn’t his goal. He’s bent on variety. He’s a vaudeville act.

Not only doesn’t Hirst make his art, but he also uses others’ ideas and calls them his own. Consider his “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.”

The “treasures” were exhibited as artifacts salvaged from a shipwreck. But one of the relics, a bronze head of a woman, turned out to be a copy of an actual relic that a Nigerian artist recognized as native to his land dug up in 1938.

At this point, you’re left wondering what Hirst will come up with next. I picture him muttering, “What to do, what to do?” like Alexander the Great wondering what worlds are left to conquer after he took Egypt and Asia.

But now we know his next project. Hirst has announced that he will torch thousands of his dot paintings at his London gallery next month.

With apologies to the Bard, “Out, out, damn spot!”