Damien Hirst, a contemporary artist who began as a painter and assemblagist was born in Bristol, UK, in June 1965. Spending the majority of his youth in Leeds, Hirst struggled throughout school and only excelled in art. After some time of searching for a school that would accept him, he began studying at Goldsmiths College in London. It was here that he first gained public notoriety; in 1988 Hirst curated an exhibition entitled “Freeze”, a show that included the works of his contemporaries at Goldsmith (1). This group later formed to be the Young British Artist (YBA), who were prominent fixtures of the 1990s art scene in England. In attendance of the 1988 show was British adverting mogul and art collector Charles Saatchi, who became Hirst’s first, and long-running patron, until increasing tensions caused the relationship to end in 2003 (2). Since that momentous show three decades ago Hirst has become one of the most renowned and in impactful artists of his generation.
Hirst’s work explores common themes for artists, beauty, death, rebirth, topics such as medicine, technology and mortality are also prominent in his oeuvre. The execution and presentation of these motifs are bold and provocative. The connection between Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made objects and Hirst own use of ready-made’s is one that has been noted by many. Hirst’s however, are of shocking affect — sharks, cows, zebras and other animals presented to the public in formaldehyde. The symbiotic lifecycle of flies and the deceased animal they survive off of, presented to the viewer in a glass case, causing one to confront the natural order of the world and the fragile mortality of everything that exists on this earth. As stated on Gagosian’s web site “His work calls into question our
awareness and convictions about the boundaries that separate desire and fear, life and death, reason and faith, love and hate.“
With over 400 exhibitions in his 30-year career, Hirst has been honored to showcase his works all across the world in some of the finest establishments, including the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., Tate Modern, London U.K., and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam NLD. In 1995 he received the Turner prize, a world-renowned award given to a British artist with an “outstanding exhibition or other presentation in the preceding year” (3). His most recent exhibition, which has received mixed reviews, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” will be on view at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana until December 2017.
1. Wainwright, Lisa S. “Damien Hirst.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 15 Apr. 2011, www.britannica.com/biography/Damien-Hirst. Accessed 30 Aug. 2017.
2. Tate. “Damien Hirst born 1965.” Tate, Tate , www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/damien-hirst-2308. Accessed 31 Aug. 2017.
3. Tate. “The Turner Prize.” Tate, Tate, www.tate.org.uk/art/turner-prize. Accessed 30 Aug. 2017.
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