Damien Hirst, Black Sheep with Golden Horns, 2009, glass painted stainless steel, silicone, acrylic, gold, cable ties, sheep, and formaldehyde, 43 7/16 × 63 7/8 × 25 1/4 inches (110.3 × 162.3 × 64.1 cm) © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2015.
Damien Hirst first rose to public recognition in 1988 during his time studying at Goldsmiths College in London, when he conceived and curated “Freeze,” a group exhibition of his work and that of his contemporaries at Goldsmiths. In the near quarter century since that pivotal show, Hirst has become one of the most prominent artists of his generation. Through work that includes the iconic shark suspended in formeldahyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), to the platinum cast of a human skull set with 8,601 flawless diamonds, For the Love of God (2007), Hirst takes a direct and challenging approach to ideas about existence. Of the latter, art historian Rudi Fuchs has said, “The skull is out of this world, celestial almost. At the same time, it represents death as something infinitely more relentless. Compared to the tearful sadness of a vanitas scene, the diamond skull is glory itself.” 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. Hirst uses the tools and iconography of science and religion, creating sculptures and paintings whose beauty and intensity offer the viewer insight into art that transcends our familiar understanding of those domains. “There [are] four important things in life: religion, love, art and science,” the artist has said. “At their best, they’re all just tools to help you find a path through the darkness. None of them really work that well, but they help. Of them all, science seems to be the one right now. Like religion, it provides the glimmer of hope that maybe it will be all right in the end…”
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol, England. Hirst was included in the 1992 Young British Artists exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London, and in 1995, he received the Turner prize. Solo exhibitions include “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2004); “A Selection of Works by Damien Hirst from Various Collections,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2005); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2005); “For the Love of God,” Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2008); “Requiem,” PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2009); “Life, Death and Love,” Galerie Rudolfinum, Prague (2009); “No Love Lost,” Wallace Collection, London (2009–10); “Cornucopia,” Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, Monte Carlo (2010); “For the Love of God,” Museo di Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2010); “Damien Hirst: A Retrospective,” Tate Modern, London (2012); “Relics,” Qatar Museum Authority, Gallery Al Riwaq, Doha (2013–14); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2015); and “The Last Supper,” National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2016). Hirst’s work is included in many important public and private collections throughout the world. His new project, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” will be on view at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana through December.
Hirst lives and works in London and Devon, England.