Damien Hirst is the official poster boy of the Young British Artist movement. While studying in the renowned art program at Goldsmiths College in London, he conceived and curated his own exhibition, "Freeze." Charles Saatchi, advertising magnate and art collector, caught... [more]
Damien Hirst is the official poster boy of the Young British Artist movement. While studying in the renowned art program at Goldsmiths College in London, he conceived and curated his own exhibition, "Freeze." Charles Saatchi, advertising magnate and art collector, caught the show and began acquiring Hirst's work. He pushed Hirst into the spotlight by exhibiting him in his first "Young British Artists" show. In 1992, he commissioned Hirst to create "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" for $32,000. The resulting work featured a 14-foot tiger shark.
Hirst uses animals preserved in formaldehyde ("pickling art," as he describes it) in order to provocatively convey his interpretations of such classic themes as life and death. His controversial animal pieces have sparked protests from the government and the public. In 1994, his work was banned by both the New York City Health Department (it was concerned about "the odors and fluids created by the rotting process") and the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1995, his piece, "Two F******, Two Watching," was banned by New York health officials on the grounds that "it might explode or prompt vomiting among the visitors."
In response to "the mechanical yet fortuitous nature of art production," Hirst actively seeks to achieve a sense of randomness in his spin paintings (formless splashes of color created by pouring paint onto spinning, circular canvases). The artist explains the source of inspiration for his series of spot paintings: "The aim is to set up a kind of visual humming...they represent the ultimate variety of life...and are random attempts to communicate within a rigid system." Hirst won one of Britain's most prestigious art awards, the Turner Prize, in 1995. [show less]