Damien Hirst, Sinner, 1988, 54 x 40 x 9 inches, Glass, faced particleboard, ramin, plastic, aluminum, anatomical model, scalpels and pharmaceutical packaging. Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2020.
Damien Hirst was born on June 7, 1965 in Bristol, England. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College from 1986-1989, and in 1988 curated the now legendary student exhibition “Freeze.” Taking place in a disused section of London’s Docklands, the exhibition brought together Hirst and other fellow classmates who would rise to prominence in the 1990s under the title Young British Artists. The exhibition was seen by prominent collector Charles Saatchi, who in 1992 displayed the ground-breaking show “Young British Artists” at his eponymous gallery, in which Hirst exhibited his sculpture “Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (1991), consisting of a tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde.
Hirst explores human experiences such as love, life, death, music, medicine, loyalty and betrayal through a variety of media and series. Notable among these is the Natural History series (1991-2003), which expanded on “Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” to include similar tanks of animals such as sheep and doves—some of which are bisected—suspended in formaldehyde, bridging the gap between art and science. Others include his Butterfly paintings (2001-2008), made by pinning thousands of butterfly wings in intricate geometric patterns on painted surfaces; the Spot paintings (1986-), presenting multicolored spots on white grounds; and the Medicine Cabinets (1988-2012) and Visual Candy paintings (1993-1995), which consider the role of prescription drugs in society. Speaking of his work, Hirst has said “Art’s about life and it can’t really be about anything else…there isn’t anything else.”
In 1995, Hirst was the recipient of the important Turner Prize, and a retrospective of his work was held at the Tate Modern, London in 2012. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the Tate Modern, London, among others.
The artist currently works and lives in London, Gloucestershire, and Devon, United Kingdom.