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.
Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol, England. He was included in the 1992 Young British Artists exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London, and in 1995, he received the Turner Prize. His groundbreaking works include The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991), a shark in formaldehyde; Mother and Child Divided (1993) a four-part sculpture of a bisected cow and calf; and For the Love of God (2007), a human skull studded with 8,601 diamonds. In addition to his installations and sculptures, Hirst’s Spot paintings and Butterfly paintings have become universally recognized.
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 common understanding of those domains.
As the market for Hirst’s work grew to astronomic heights, capped off by his $200 million Sotheby’s sale in 2008, his memento-mori works took on an increasingly ironic edge, as if to underscore that money can’t buy the one thing everyone craves: eternal life.
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