Damien Hirst (1965 − )

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol. He studied at Jacob Kramer College of Art, Leeds, 1983 - 1985 and at Goldsmiths College, University of London, 1986 - 1989. He curated the now legendary exhibition Freeze in 1988 whilst still a student.

Freeze was the first of a group of exhibitions organised and curated by young artists in the late 1980s and early 1990s which presented the work of a new generation of artists in museum sized spaces in disused industrial buildings in the East End of London. These exhibitions signalled a change in the artistic landscape of Britain and many of the exhibited artists went on to establish international reputations in the subsequent decade, while Hirst was to become the most famous artist of his generation and a household name. He staged his first solo exhibition, In and Out of Love, in an empty shop in the West End of London in 1991, and later that same year his first solo exhibition in a public gallery, Internal Affairs, was held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, with his first solo show in New York, Pharmacy, following in 1992.

A substantial showing of his work was included in the Third International Istanbul Biennial in 1992, and he was selected for the Aperto Section of the XLV Venice Biennale in 1993, where he showed Mother and Child Divided, a work consisting of a cow and calf split in two and displayed in four vitrines of formaldehyde. He curated the exhibition Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away for the Serpentine Gallery, London in 1994, and he directed a film, Hanging Around for the exhibition Spellbound: Art and Film at the Hayward Gallery, London in the spring of 1996. Hirst's work has been shown in many important group shows including Un Siècle de Sculpture Anglaise at the Galerie National du Jeu de Paume, Paris in 1996, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1997, and Blast to Freeze: British Art in the 20th Century at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in 2002 - 2003. Hirst was awarded the Turner Prize at the Tate Gallery, London in 1995.

Hirst works with a wide array of materials and across numerous art forms. He tackles the big subjects of love, desire, life and death, and his titles say as much, as in his most renowned work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living of 1991, (Saatchi Collection) which features a 12-foot tiger shark floating in a glass tank of formaldehyde. His solo exhibition of the same year, In and Out of Love, took place in two rooms, one above the other, in a disused shop in the West End of London. In the lower space, dead butterflies were embedded in the glossy paint of monochrome canvases, while upstairs the complete life cycle of exotic butterflies was acted out as they hatched from pupae, fed, bred and eventually died. Other installation works from this time include wall cabinets displaying such items as pharmaceutical products, bottles and tanks of fish and sections of animals in formaldehyde, shells, and cigarette ends as in Dead Ends Died Out Explored, 1993.

In parallel to his sculptural works he has, since 1988, worked on an unlimited series of dot paintings under the generic title The Pharmaceutical Paintings. He has referred to these as "A scientific approach to painting in a similar way to the drug companies' scientific approach to life. Medical and pharmaceutical references feature prominently in his work, as with I'll love you forever of 1994, which incorporates a locked steel cage containing clinical and pharmaceutical waste containers. For his first major body of prints, The Last Supper, a series of 13 screenprints made in 1999, Hirst based the designs on specific pharmaceutical packets but with the original drug names replaced by everyday British café food. Two further series of prints followed in 2002 with the etchings, In a Spin, the Action of the world on Things, Volumes I and II, which derive from his large and on-going series of spin paintings made by pouring paint on spinning canvases.

Turning Points: 20th Century British Sculpture, British Council and Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Further reading:
Charles Hall, an interview with Sophie Call, Damien Hirst, Jay Jopling and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 1991
Gordon Burn, Stuart Morgan, and writings by the artist, Damien Hirst: I want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, to one, always, forever, now,Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, 1997
Annushka Shani, Romance in the Age of Uncertainty: Damien Hirst, Jay Jopling/White Cube, London, 2003

www.damienhirst.com

Glossary (6)

  • Contemporary

    Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.

  • Film

    A transparent, flexible plastic material, usually of cellulose acetate or polyester, on which light-sensitive emulsion is coated, or on which an image can be formed by various transfer processes.

  • Installation

    An artwork comprised of many and various elements of miscellaneous materials (see mixed media), light and sound, which is conceived for and occupies an entire space, gallery or site. The viewer can often enter or walk around the installation. Installations may only exist as long as they are installed, but can be re-created in different sites. Installation art emerged in the 1960s out of Environmental Art (works of art which are three-dimensional environments), but it was not until the 1970s that the term came into common use and not until the late 1980s that artists started to specialise in this kind of work, creating a genre of ‘Installation Art’. The term can also be applied to the arrangement of selected art works in an exhibition.

  • Landscape

    Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.

  • Painting

    Work of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is a tightly stretched piece of canvas, paper or a wooden panel. Painting involves a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's intellectual concerns effecting the content of a work.

  • Sculpture

    A three-dimensional work of art. Such works may be carved, modelled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, relief, and made in a huge variety of media. Contemporary practice also includes live elements, as in Gilbert & George 'Living Sculpture' as well as broadcast work, radio or sound sculpture.

Past exhibitions

BRITISH EXPRESS

  • 2013
    • Slovakia, Kosice, Kunsthalle

BRITISH BRITISH POLISH POLISH: ART FROM EUROPE'S EDGES IN THE LONG 90'S AND TODAY

  • 2013
    • Poland, Warsaw, Centre For Contemporary Art - Ujazdowski Castle

LIVING LOSS: THE EXPERIENCE OF ILLNESS IN ART

  • 2012
    • Ireland, Cork, Lewis Glucksman Gallery

ARTIST ROOMS: Damien Hirst

  • 2012
    • UK, Walsall, The New Art Gallery

DAMIEN HIRST - NEW RELIGION

  • 2012
    • Bulgaria, Sofia, National Gallery
  • 2011
    • Greece, Athens, Benaki Museum
    • Greece, Thessaloniki, Macedonian Museum Of Contemporary Art

MADE IN BRITAIN

  • 2012
    • Albania, Tirana, National Gallery
    • Greece, Athens, Benaki Museum
  • 2011
    • China, Suzhou Museum
    • China, Hong Kong Heritage Museum
    • China, Xian Museum
  • 2010
    • China, Sichuan Provincial Museum

SEEING IN COLOUR

  • 2011
    • Oman, Qaboos University Cultural Centre
  • 2010
    • Azerbaijan, Institution of Fine Arts
    • Georgia, Academy Of Arts
    • Ukraine, Centre for Urban History
    • Ukraine, Kiev, Bottega Gallery
    • Armenia, Yerevan, National Gallery
    • Armenia, Style Gallery

SELECTION

  • 2010
    • UK, Blackpool And The Fylde College

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

  • 2010
    • Ukraine, Kiev, Bottega Gallery
    • Azerbaijan, Baku, Azerbaijani Academy Of Fine Arts
    • Georgia, Academy Of Arts
    • Armenia, Yerevan, Fine Arts Academy

THE FUTURE DEMANDS YOUR PARTICIPATION

  • 2010
    • China, Shanghai, Minsheng Art Gallery

PASSPORTS. IN VIAGGIO CON L'ARTE

  • 2009
    • Italy, Milan, Padglione D'arte Contemporanea

POT LUCK (FOOD AND ART)

  • 2009
    • UK, London, PM Gallery And House
    • Wales, Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth Arts Centre
    • UK, Walsall, The New Art Gallery

PASSPORTS: GREAT EARLY BUYS FROM THE BRITISH COUNCIL COLLECTION

  • 2009
    • UK, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery

RADICAL ADVERTISING

  • 2008
    • Germany, Dusseldorf, New Forum Kultur Und Wirtschaft

MARTIAN MUSEUM OF TERRESTRIAL ART

  • 2008
    • UK, London, Barbican Art Gallery

MONOLOGUE/DIALOGUE

  • 2006
    • Thailand, Bangkok, Tonson Gallery
    • Thailand, Bangkok, Chulalongkorn University Art Centre

EU EXHIBITION

  • 2006
    • Kuwait, Kuwait City, Kuwait National Museum

TURNING POINTS 20TH CENTURY BRITISH SCULPTURE

  • 2004
    • Iran, Tehran, Museum Of Contemporary Art

DAMIEN HIRST, FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE: SELECTED DRAWINGS

  • 2003
    • Slovenia, Ljubljana, International Graphic Arts Centre

MULTIPLICATION

  • 2006
    • Chile, Santiago, Instituto De Arte Moderno
    • Colombia, Barranquilla, Museo De Arte Moderno
    • Colombia, Cali, Museo La Tertulia
    • Colombia, Bogota, Galeria Santa Fe De Bogota
  • 2005
    • Venezuela, Caracas, Museo De Artes Visuales Alejandro Otero
    • Venezuela, Maracaibo, Museo Arte Contemporaneo De Zulia
  • 2004
    • Albania, Tirana, Galeria Kombetare E Arteve
    • Macedonia, Skopje, Museum Of Modern Art
    • Bulgaria, Varna, Varna Art Museum
    • Bulgaria, Plovdiv, Plovdiv City Art Gallery
    • Bulgaria, Sofia, Sofia City Art Gallery
  • 2003
    • Cyprus, Limassol, Evagoras Lanitis Centre
    • Cyprus, Nicosia, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre
    • Slovenia, Ljubljana, Mestna Gallery
    • Slovenia, Celje, Contemporary Arts Gallery
    • Slovenia, Maribor, Kibla Centre
    • Estonia, Tallinn, Tallinn Town Hall
  • 2002
    • Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Museum of Fine Art, Husove Street Gallery
    • Yugoslavia, Podgorica, Podgorica
    • Yugoslavia, Belgrade, Masarakova Art Pavilion
    • Poland, Wroclaw, Awagarda Gallery
    • Croatia, Zagreb, Muzej Suvremene Umjetnosti
    • Croatia, Zadar, Galerija Umjetnin Narodnog Muzeja
    • Croatia, Split, Galerija Umjetnina
    • Croatia, Dubrovnik, Palaca Sponza
  • 2001
    • Romania, Sibiu, Museum Brukenthal
    • Romania, Brasov, Muzeul De Arta Brasov
    • Romania, Bucharest, National Museum Of Art

DOUBLE VISION

  • 2001
    • Germany, Leipzig, Galerie Fur Zeitgenossische Kunst

24TH INTERNATIONAL BIENNALE OF GRAPHIC ARTS, LJUBLJANA

  • 2001
    • Slovenia, Ljubljana, Moderna Galerija

FIELD DAY SCULPTURE FROM BRITAIN

  • 2001
    • Taiwan, Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum

UBS WARBURG EXHIBITION

  • 2001
    • UK, London, Ubs Warburg At Planit Arches

THE LAST SUPPER

  • 2006
    • Thailand, Bangkok, Tonson Gallery
  • 2003
    • Chile, Concepcion, Sala Universitaria
    • Chile, Santiago, Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes
    • Mexico, Monterrey, National Library, National University
  • 2002
    • Mexico, Mexico City, Programa
    • Mexico, Guanajuato, Festival Cervantino
  • 2000
    • Italy, Milan, Sala Mostre De Centre Cultural Francais (Organised By Galleria Gruppo Caltellinese)

LE MUSEE A L'HEURE ANGLAISE

  • 1999
    • France, Valenciennes, Musee Des Beaux Arts

MULTIPLE CHOICE

  • 2001
    • Sri Lanka, Colombo, Lionel Wendt Gallery
  • 2000
    • Singapore, Lasalle-Sia College Of The Arts
    • Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, National Art Gallery
    • Malaysia, Penang, Penang State Museum And Art Gallery
    • Thailand, Chiangmai University Gallery
    • Thailand, Silpakorn University Art Gallery
    • Czech Republic, Pilsen, X Centre Gallery
    • Czech Republic, Gallery Zbrojnice
  • 1999
    • Brazil, Brasilia, Art Museum
    • Brazil, Sao Paulo, Mac Museu De Arts Contemporanea
    • Brazil, Curitiba, Museu Metropolitan De Arte
    • Brazil, Rio De Janeiro, Paco Imperial
  • 1998
    • Colombia, Bogota, Banco De La Republica
    • Cuba, Havana, Centro Wifredo Lam
    • Venezuela, Caracas, Museo De Arts Contemporaneo, SOFIA IMBER
  • 1997
    • Venezuela, Maracaibo, Museo Arte Contemporaneo De Zulia
    • Bolivia, La Paz, British Council Office - La Paz
    • Peru, Trujillo, Continental Bank
    • Peru, Arequipa, Centro Cultural Chaves De La Rosa
    • Peru, Lima, Peruvian British Cultural Association

A CHANGED WORLD

  • 2000
    • Malta, Valletta, St James Cavalier Centre For Creativity
    • Cyprus, Nicosia, Nicosia Municipal Arts Centre
  • 1999
    • Zimbabwe, Harare, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe
  • 1998
    • Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, National Gallery Of Zimbabwe In Bulawayo
    • South Africa, Cape Town, South African National Gallery
    • South Africa, Johannesburg, Johannesburg Art Gallery
  • 1997
    • Pakistan, Lahore, The Old Fort
    • Pakistan, Karachi, Hindu Gymkhana

DIMENSIONS VARIABLE

  • 1999
    • Romania, Bucharest, National Theatre Galleries
    • Slovakia, Bratislava, Slovak National Gallery
    • Hungary, Budapest, Ludwig Museum
    • Lithuania, Vilnius, Contemporary Art Centre
    • Germany, Darmstadt, Institute Mathildenhohe
  • 1998
    • Croatia, Zagreb, Zagreb Union Of Croatian Artists
    • Czech Republic, Prague, Prague National Gallery Of Modern Art
    • Germany, Chemnitz, Stadtische Kunstsammlungen
    • Poland, Warsaw, Zacheta Gallery
    • Ukraine, Kiev, Soros Foundation
    • Sweden, Stockholm, Royal Academy Of Free Arts
  • 1997
    • Finland, Helsinki, Helsinki City Art Museum

WEU PRESIDENCY EXHIBITIONS

  • 1995
    • Belgium, Brussels, Western European Union

NEW ART FROM BRITAIN

  • 1995
    • Poland, Lodz, Muzeum Sztuki

SOME WENT MAD, SOME RAN AWAY

  • 1995
    • USA, Chicago, Museum Of Contemporary Art
  • 1994
    • Germany, Hannover, Kunstverein
    • Finland, Helsinki, Nordic Arts Centre
    • UK, London, Serpentine Gallery
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