Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons are called out by portrait painter Cameron John Robbins; charity will benefit.

A new upstart has had the audacity to throw down the gauntlet to three of the giants of contemporary art. Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons, each with an estimated net-worth of as much as one billion dollars, have been challenged to pit their skills against those of an unknown. The challenger, a portrait painter named Cameron John Robbins, who calls himself the Gentleman Artist, proposes that each contestant produce one work to be put up for auction. The winner of the contest will be the artist whose work realizes the highest selling price, at which point the proceeds from all four works will be donated to the charity of the winner’s choice. The challenge was issued via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on 7 January 2022.

The style of Mr. Robbins’ work differs radically from that of the artists he’s challenged to this duel. While Hirst, Kapoor and Koons are well known and celebrated for their contemporary and avant-garde works, Mr. Robbins seems to be carrying the torch of the classical tradition. His work has more in common with Rembrandt and Velasquez than with Warhol or Hopper; and his portraits reach back to the likes of George Romney, Gilbert Stuart and Antony van Dyke, rather than following any contemporary portrait conventions.

“This is not a battle of classicism vs. modernism for me. Old vs. New has nothing to do with it. This isn’t about style. It’s about pitting myself against some of the biggest players in my profession to see how I do.” – Cameron John Robbins


Since the works of Hirst, Kapoor and Koons routinely sell in the six to seven-figure range, whichever charity the winning artist champions will be the ultimate winner. It is virtually a foregone conclusion that a work by one of these three reigning princes of contemporary art will realize the highest selling price. But although an underdog, to say the least, if Mr. Robbins should prevail in this contest, he has determined to donate the proceeds to the charity Comic Relief.


“I’m tilting at windmills; and believe me, I know it.” – Cameron John Robbins


According to the rules set forth in Mr. Robbins’ challenge, the works in question must be finished by 5 November 2022. Apart from that, each artist is free to create whatever they want. Medium, size, theme, and every other detail is at their individual discretion. With the involvement of names like Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons, and with the proceeds going to charity, it’s likely that there will be some eager competition as to who will host this unique event.




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