“I just made these 5 mega red glitter prints! I thought the idea was good but seeing them now, real, they feel like they are unlocking the unfathomable mysteries of the universe. I don’t know why they are so good but they are… They feel powerful and important. I called them ‘The Empresses’ and named them after five famous female rulers (…) I love art and it’s uplifting qualities and how can these not make you feel good? I love it when an idea explodes and becomes more than the sum of its parts.” – Damien Hirst
Britain’s most famous living artist and enfant terrible of the YBAs, Damien Hirst, is a conceptual artist, painter and assemblagist. His deliberately provocative art addresses vanitas and beauty, rebirth, medicine and technology and often has the power to shock and invigorate the public debate surrounding contemporary art. Being a master at artistic self-promotion and playing upon preconceptions of what art should be, Hirst reformed the romantic ideal of the artist as visionary-craftsman into a entrepreneurial figure of modern commerce. Alongside Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Liam Gillick, Damien Hirst came to prominence as the leading figure of the Young British Artists movement. Attending Goldsmiths College in London, he curated the formative Freeze show in 1988, which drew the attention to the YBAs for the first time. At the exhibition, Hirst’s work caught the eye of media entrepreneur and art collector Charles Saatchi, who became an early patron and helped launching his career. Presenting dead animals in formaldehyde as art, Damien Hirst refined Marcel Duchamp’s idea of ready-made objects to shocking effect. In 1995 he won Tate Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize with a body of work that included his controversial bisected cow and calf, titled Mother and Child (Divided). His seminal preserved shark, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living famously formed the centerpiece of Saatchi’s iconic YBA exhibition, Sensation, at the Royal Academy in 1997. Besides Hirst’s controversial installations and sculptures, his butterfly and spot paintings have become universally recognized. Major solo exhibitions of his work were held at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (2008) and Tate Modern in London (2012). Damien Hirst was born 1965 in Bristol and currently lives in London, United Kingdom.
Damien Hirst, Theodora (H10-3)