I thought I knew Damien Hirst. The one who puts dead animals in formaldehyde. Made a skull of diamonds. Did some things with coloured dots. Made me think: "Modern art? Rubbish. Anyone could do that." Well, turns out I was wrong. The current Tate Modern retrospective has changed my mind - and made me something of a fan in the process.
The beginning of the last century, on the surface of things, was a time of pomp and ceremony; of military parades, imperial regalia, flag waving and staid order. Yet far from being symbols of stability, these represented a growing unease felt by ruling elites in a world where the existing order of things was being undermined.
Coming to the Hirst retrospective at the Tate Modern is like coming to see the show you have already seen. Damien Hirst belongs to the collective memory of Britain. And that it is a great achievement for an artist. The maggots, dead or alive; the butterflies, dead or alive; the dots; the spin. The Shark is getting old, so are we.