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Created with public collaboration at the Damien Hirst Spin Workshop to celebrate the opening of Requiem at the PinchukArtCentre, Ukraine.
One of the most popular and successful artists of the present times, Damien Hirst is known for extraordinarily bold creations that often leave the viewers in shock and awe. Born in Bristol in 1965, Hirst grew up with a keen interest in drawing and also took classes. Later, after working on building sites in London for two years, he enrolled in Goldsmiths College to study Fine Art in 1986. It was during his days here Hirst first encountered success with an independent student exhibition titled Freeze. Apart from being the main organiser, he also contributed with a cluster of cardboard boxes painted with household paint. Famously visited by influential collectors, including Charles Saatchi and Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate Museums at the time, this show became an important juncture in the subsequent development of Young British Artists (YBAs), which dominated the art scene in the UK in the 1990s. Since the start of his career, the artist was highly influenced by the reality of death, and his intrigue was further exaggerated after working at a mortuary as a student. Works by Irish-born British figurative painter Francis Bacon, known for his unnerving imagery, also served as an inspiration in Hirst’s formative years.
Hirst's first major creature installation, titled, A Thousand Years, was showcased in one of the two 'warehouse' shows he organised with his artist friends in 1990. A glass cage containing flies and maggots feeding off a cow's head, the work at once both stunned and repulsed the critics. After showcasing his works in several group shows, including the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery in Paris, Damien Hirst had his first solo exhibition titled 'In and Out of Love' in 1991. At the same time, with the support of Charles Saatchi, the first exhibition by Young British Artists was held in 1992. Hirst’s work for the show, titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, was an installation with a tiger shark in formaldehyde in a vitrine. Probing the entwined relationship between the themes of art, science, and faith, his other piece from this ‘Natural History,’ series, titled ‘Mother and Child Divided,’ won him the Turner Prize in 1995.
Through the course of the 1990s, Hirst experimented with a myriad of subjects in his work, such as the theme of smoking as well as his enquiry into the pharmaceuticals objects that also led to his Pharmacy restaurant artwork in London’s Notting Hill in 1998. Among others of his widely collected pieces are his colourful series, such as Butterfly paintings executed with butterflies. His Spot paintings and Spin paintings, both of which he began doing in the mid-1990s. Hirst's exploration of life and nature has also led to the creation of several landmark sculptures executed with precious metals and depicting leviathans, gods, and heroes in colossal form.
In 2007, Hirst once again astonished the art world with what is touted to be his most famously recounted work, a platinum-cast human skull studded with 8,601 diamonds titled For the Love of God. The overt sensationalism and a penchant for self-promotion have also made Damien Hirst controversy’s favourite child and have generated a strong response from his critics. However, at the same time, his unrestrained aesthetic instinct and unique artistic sensibility have been integral in redefining the meaning of art in the contemporary era. The artist’s works belong to numerous museums worldwide, including the Tate Modern, London, the Astrup Fearnley Collection, Oslo, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
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