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